Thu | Aug 17, 2017

Glenn Tucker | No cost too high to curb crime

Published:Sunday | June 18, 2017 | 6:14 AM
Glenn Tucker

Prime Minister Andrew Holness indicated recently that he recognised the importance of intelligence-driven crime-fighting and more resources. He also hinted that this initiative could mean the shifting of resources from other critical areas to a hungry minister of national security, Robert Montague.

Shift them, Prime Minister! Would anyone on the Opposition benches oppose you? They dare not! Would the private sector criticise you? I doubt it.

With murders being committed in twos and threes and fours, a scared, grieving nation is forced to sleep with its eyes openexpecting anything because some of these acts seem to have a tinge of mischief attached to them.

Quite frankly, the nation is tired of hearing the pronouncements coming from those in charge. They sound like recitations. One talk-show host read speeches made by leaders in law enforcement made 13 months ago, then made the assertion that nothing has changed since then.

What annoys me are the old, tired appeals to the public for cooperation with the police and to 'tell what they know'. It's annoying because the police have artfully alienated themselves from the people. There are deep feelings of dislike and distrust for the police and - helpful as this would be - it is not practical to expect much from this source in the near future.

It seems that the Government needs to turn to technology something it seems reluctant to do. But the civilised world is moving in this direction. And it must be for a good reason.

Last year, California law-enforcement officials came under pressure for an escalation in gun crimes. Where they were partially into crime-fighting technology, they are now fully on board.

One initiative that should be of particular interest to local crime fighters is the ShotSpotter. This tool allows areas to triangulate gunfire almost immediately, within 10 feet of where it happened and determine how many shooters there are before the police arrive. This April, one frustrated religious fanatic decided he wanted to shoot "as many people as possible". By the time he shot three people, the police were on spot and in control. This technology also saves lives by getting medical professionals to act quicker.

Wearing a headband that measures cognitive brain responses to the stimuli the suspect watches on a computer screen, an EEG (electroencephalograph) picks up distinct responses to words, sounds and images that are related to the crime. This is being used to obtain guilty pleas from suspects who refuted allegations of knowledge about their crimes.

Criminals frequently leave shoeprints behind. Researchers in the United Kingdom have made an automated system that compares features of shoeprints of suspects with those of prints left behind at crime scenes. A UK act gives this forensic evidence the same legal validity as DNA and fingerprints.

GM has equipped its cars with a unique in-vehicular safety system called OnStar. Police can use this to transmit a signal to restrict the vehicle's fuel reserves and slow it down to about 5mph. This reduces the need to shoot up a vehicle, only to approach to find innocent schoolers among the passengers.

 

UNIQUE DATABASE

 

The police Canine Research Centre in China has created a unique database of people with criminal records. They are collecting body odours of criminals so that they can be later used to match the smell on a crime scene with the help of their dogs.

Finally, there is technology to detect weapons, contraband and chemicals on or in the body or in the surrounding community. I find this tool

particularly exciting because some years ago, after an intensive joint initiative in a troubled area to recover guns, the police and soldiers left in the afternoon, at about the same time that I was leaving a school in the area. They found nothing.

No sooner had the last Jeep turned to corner on to East Queen Street, every male under 35 emerged with a firearm in hand, pointing them in the direction of the recently departed vehicles shouting a variety of threats punctuated by some graphic expletives. Where were they hidden? Only technology can answer that question.

The prime minister has no choice. If Minister Montague wants half of the Budget allocation, he has to get it. To those who claim he cannot get it, I ask, can we afford not to give him? What would be the price of that? Because if we continue like this, investments will just dry up. And there will be no country to run.

- Glenn Tucker is a sociologist. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and glenntucker2011@gmail.com.