Mon | Aug 21, 2017

Politician ‘lick shot’ as crime surges

Published:Saturday | November 7, 2015 | 11:13 PMIan Boyne, Contributor

The big, nasty brawl in Parliament last week over security - just the latest episode of parliamentary crassness - reflects the heat on the streets as the crime scene hots up yet again.

While the politicians are content to play the blame game, criminals are not jesting about taking us out. After the politicians had finished their shouting and screaming bout in Parliament on Tuesday, criminals went about their normal business - snuffing out the lives of Kemoy Green and his little boy, Alljay, whom Kemoy died clutching. Then on Wednesday evening, some other brute beasts pumped bullets into the head of a promising 22-year-old pharmacy student from the University of Technology after she did not hand over her bag.

Meanwhile, the politicians debate which party presided over fewer murders and which party can make you sleep with your door open at nights. Holness has been strongly criticised for stating,"If yuh want to live safe in yuh yard and if you want to be able to fall asleep with yuh door open and wake up in the morning and still be alive, you cannot make the mistake of putting in the PNP."

Ralston Chamberlain, out of Canada, in the Letter of the Day last Wednesday ('Holness' crime rhetoric reckless, pathetic'), says, "These utterances are irresponsible and have no place in our modern democracy. We have long past the horrible stage in our country's history where fearmongering is used as a method to gain victory."

But while Holness has received flak over his campaign speech in Hanover, it is his statement in Parliament chastising Bunting for not supporting the extension of the state of emergency in 2010 that is more controversial. The deafening silence of the very vocal, strident and powerful human-rights lobby might be because of the crime surge and its unwillingness not to take on Holness in this election season.

But Holness' vehemence and passion in blasting Bunting for rejecting his personal plea to him to support the extension of the state of emergency to get into St Catherine and Clarendon to degrade criminals gangs is what bleeding hearts recoil from. And especially coming after so many heart-rending, tear-jerking testimonies of abuse and alleged cold-blooded murder of innocent citizens by the security forces during this West Kingston enquiry.

In an interview with The Gleaner, which perhaps few might have seen, Holness said this, which would incense the human-rights lobby: "I don't believe the execution of the state of emergency in anyway significantly impeded the rights of people." People might be asking which Jamaica he has been living in and whether he has not even heard about the West Kingston commission of enquiry.

Did he wish to see more Tivoli-type operations? Is that his solution to fighting crime -- the military solution? Holness said an ideal opportunity was presented to the country after the Tivoli garrison had been smashed to similarly uproot the Clansman garrison in Spanish Town -- and, hopefully, also One Order, too, though, regrettably he only mentioned one gang: "Had we done that (extended the state of emergency), we would have uprooted the most dangerous criminal gang in Jamaica and today Jamaica would have benefited."

But whether he gives the PNP-affiliated Clansman more ratings than the JLP-aligned One Order, as long as the state of emergency would dismantle both, I am fine. As obnoxious as Holness' enthusiastic support for emergency measures to deal with criminal gangs is to human-rights fundamentalists, I strongly support him. And I agree with him that the PNP made a major blunder not to have supported the then Government's appeal for an extension to crush other gangs apart from the Shower Posse.

No set of measures that don't include hard, tough policing can contain crime in Jamaica. None! I have been preaching this consistently for years, despite abuse in the media, which, no doubt, will continue. The biggest proof that my thesis is true is a careful consideration of what Peter Bunting has been doing right now and which has so far failed to contain crime this year. Bunting has been doing most of the right things and employing the right strategic, game-changing approaches.

His Unite for Change programme, strong community activism, social intervention, focus on values and attitudes, corruption, and good parenting have been the precise strategies called for by academics, commentators and human-rights activists. Police fatal shootings are down. You can credit INDECOM alone if you like, but if they were up, you would be blaming Bunting.

Bunting has been bringing down top security experts from North America for security conferences and seminars. He has been interacting with the best scholarship, the best ideas. But these actions are not enough.

When Police Commissioner Carl Williams goes before Parliament this week to face Opposition Security Spokesman Derrick Smith, he will outline many laudable things being done. I say this not to just big up Bunting, but to stress the poignancy of Holness' valid point that stronger measures were needed in 2010 and that Bunting and his party made a gigantic blunder.

Bunting did explain that his party was willing to support a 15-day extension with a review after, but that the Government said 30 days or leave it. What I can say is that it is a pity that the two parties did not find a way to work a compromise and agree to send in the security forces to dismantle those gangs, while protecting the human rights of decent citizens.

But the PNP pandered to the human-rights purists, as the gutless political parties tend to do. Let Bunting continue with his nice-guy policies alone and see whether they, by themselves, can work.

Some asinine statement will be made that I am saying only brutalising and killing poor people will solve crime. They will say I am panicking. But if criminals are not scared; if they feel we in civil society are divided, they will, tragically, continue to murder our students and men hugging their children.

My experience with the police shows that incompetence and just a lack of interest are a big part of failed crime fighting. I have dealt with them up to recently on a matter and I continue to be incensed by their lack of interest in their job and their amateurishness and carelessness. People know they can murder and get away with it in Jamaica. If you are not catching criminals, how the hell are you going to hang them? Damn nonsense.

If police can't investigate simple cases, how can they investigate murder? The police commissioner needs to get his men to learn some basics of investigation. They are too clueless and careless. Another simple thing: Get 119 to work! Try calling it. SMH. There are some simple things that can be done and which must be done. Patrols have to be stepped up. Greater intelligence has to be employed - in both the security and ordinary sense of the word!

But while these politicians trade insults and call one another hypocrites, I ask them: How can we take you seriously? Rather than talking about who had fewer murders, why not be contrite about your parties' role in taking us to where we are today?

Let's start with that, and you will soon realise none of you have anything to shout and appear self-righteous about.

- Ian Boyne is a veteran journalist working with the Jamaica Information Service. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and ianboyne1@yahoo.com.