Sat | Aug 8, 2020

Editorial | Along comes another shocker

Published:Saturday | September 21, 2019 | 12:00 AM

If we needed any further reminder of how dangerously brazen Jamaica’s criminals are, we got a jolt this week when it was revealed that men posing as policemen stole a motor vehicle from a man’s yard. They apparently searched his house and demanded the key to his car. Routine stuff, one may say, but this robbery was carried out in Clarendon during the current state of public emergency (SOE).

In reporting the incident, the police urged citizens to request identification from any member of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) during the execution of his or her duty. We believe that is easier said than done, Mr Commissioner, especially if you are staring down the barrel of a gun.

Posing as the police to gain access to homes or businesses is an old ruse employed by criminals. However, for them to act it out in an area where the police are known to be on high alert is a grim indication that today’s hoodlums are unreservedly bold.

From all indications, criminal gangs operate in Clarendon and St Catherine with impunity. Crime statistics indicate that one in three murders recorded across the island has been carried out in these two parishes.

What is frightening is that criminals are using sophisticated high-tech methods for retaliatory violence against rivals and to help them stay a step ahead of the police. As recently revealed by this newspaper, drone technology and other methods are being utilised by criminals to track rival thugs and the police.

So the SOEs are not likely to gain the desired results of interrupting the criminal network and returning sustainable peace to communities if the JCF is not better resourced and equipped than the criminals they seek. The SOEs will not serve us well if they are to arrest the criminals while curtailing the recruitment and grooming of new blood into these gangs.

The SOEs will not succeed if we do not get more aggressive in identifying and punishing those involved in the illegal gun trade. In other words, this complicated enterprise of crime and violence has to be fought simultaneously, on all fronts.

Let’s also not forget that the men and women who are at the front line of this fight need to be provided with the physical, emotional and economic support to help them navigate the harshness of the volatile areas in which they serve.

Comprehensive crime plan needed

Opposition soundings suggest that there is little faith in the ability of SOEs to curb crime long term. Their insistent calls for a comprehensive crime plan are repeated by the day. The Government and Opposition must be singing from the same hymn book if the aim of the political leadership is to stem the decline in the rule of law and build a brighter future for Jamaica and its people.

The looming crisis of violence is upon us. The country has to be prepared to sacrifice – absolute privacy, and even some other rights – but the security forces cannot be allowed the privilege of constitutional override without time limits and clear, quantifiable deliverables.

In this space, we have discussed the crisis of violence many times over, including calling for consensus and bipartisanship.

Once again, therefore, we are registering our profound concern about the future. What will Jamaica be like in 10 years if we are unable to bring crime under control?