Sun | Nov 17, 2019

Mark Wignall | Investigations cannot be half-done

Published:Sunday | October 27, 2019 | 12:20 AM

In last Thursday’s column, I suggested that initial announcements of charges against high officials usually form the bigger basis of public judgment against these officials.

In other words, if an official is accused of an embarrassing charge of corruption, it matters little if he is later found to be innocent of the damaging accusations which once invaded his life. For the rest of his or her life, many members of the general public will attach their names to politically sordid matters.

Imagine, if you may, a young man working on a construction site. He has four years of sometimes-schooling and is not too driven by any codes that could help him domestically and at work. He steals a few bags of cement, is held, and eventually pays a fine in the courts. A week after, he is working on another site.

In the case of men like Ruel Reid, Fritz Pinnock, and others close to them, a half-done investigation, pushy political considerations, and panic could have major life-changing outcomes.

We have a justice system that in its outcomes on very public matters involving the political and big-money class, members of the public believe that the deck is stacked against those thought to be merely a social statistic. That is, those who are voiceless and powerless.

Hugh Wildman is representing Reid and Pinnock. He believes that the entire process that led up to the arrest is a ‘nullity’ in that it overstepped the bounds of the agency that arrested them. That agency is the Financial Investigation Division (FID).

Most people I have spoken with would want the meat of the case to go through the grinder, no matter how faulty, of the justice system we have. Not by the technicalities of the law or language that seems designed to dislodge us from logical reasoning.

The thing is, it could have already set in that the lives of Reid and Pinnock may have been radically adjusted and negatively so. What chance do they have of socio-economic recovery?

By this time, of course, it will come across as if I am defending Reid and Pinnock and holding them to a specially hallowed slice of justice. Nothing like that. A more extensive viewpoint of justice is the extent to which an arrested, charged, and confined or charged person returns to the closest position of normality as possible.

ARE THE SOES SOURING?

It seems to me that Jamaican gang members have fully assimilated themselves into the schedule of the SOEs and the security forces. Makes one wonder if maybe an important player or sets of criminal masterminds may have hacked into the communications network of the JCF. Just a thought.

I am getting the distinct sense that the graph is slowly pointing to the security forces losing ground. Based on Jamaica’s high rate of murders, it was always my view that if sustained states of a emergency (SOEs) did not return 60 per cent and over, the whole exercise would be fruitless.

“The gunmen will at some time make a deal with key police units,” said a retired supe who I have known for over 10 years. “It’s about coexistence. No side is ever going to win, so they work out terms of coexistence.”

We were speaking with each other last Thursday afternoon.

“This is depressing,” I said. “So at which stage does the government just give it up and start to play lotto with national security again?”

“As long as Holness has the political market buying most of what he has been selling,” said my friend, who hardly ever speaks of his advanced professional degrees.

“Wake up and smell this,” he said. “Crimes, like robbery and rape, are being deliberately suppressed because it helps to keep the bigger numbers down.”

“So who is directing that? The politics or the security forces?” I asked.

“That is directly our boys,” he said, making reference to the security forces. “Remember how I told you many years ago that when police management was put under pressure by the chattering political class we would always give the politicians what they wanted, especially when it came to a big-name criminal, where we could always give him more notches than he made?”

I wanted to know from this man what unique outlook he had on solving the gun criminality besetting us.

“That horse has long bolted. The present set of young men with guns are cold and lifeless. Their parents, or at least fathers and uncles, had the leftovers of some crude codes in the criminal underworld – leave woman and pickney alone. that finish now.”

“But there must be a solution,” I suggested “Even if we have to look at all options.”

“That is the problem,” he said. “You are not prepared to accept my suggestions. The media traps you. The security forces need community policing and a specialty team for the usual outbreaks of criminality. But we also need to be prepared to light a hotter fire than those who believe they must make our daily lives hell.”

CAR TINTS, CAPS, AND CRIMINALITY

It just occurred to me late last week that a car parked under a mango tree in my yard was almost fully tinted. It was when I was driving back the 17-year-old car from a brief trip up to Rock Hall that I remembered that it was I who specifically had the tinting job done.

I can say that I am no criminal, but what must the police assume should they see me driving that old relic?

One reader wrote:

“I believe that in the face of criminals increasingly robbing business establishments, and wearing caps and hats as their primary means of disguise, legislators must now move with alacrity to ban the wearing of hats inside banks, cambios, supermarkets, large department stores, etc, especially where security guards are employed and can give support by quietly and gently approaching and asking persons to remove their hats.

“Be mindful of some of the places where the wearing of hats is either prohibited or is culturally unaccepted, for instance, inside an exam venue or a church as a mark of reverence. In fact, in my day, a man would willingly remove his hat upon entering a house, restaurant, meeting, formal function, and even when speaking to someone in authority.

“Let’s face it. without the hats to cover their faces, robbers will not be so brazen in their attempts to rob these places even when they know that cameras are in place and on them.

“In recent times, Western Union’s clerks would ask that you (man or woman) remove your hat before you commence your transaction. In my observation, persons had no problem with compliance as their only objective is to secure the monies sent to them. At the supermarket where a booth for baggage is erected and from which an assigned custodian operates, hats and caps can be dropped off just before one enters to shop. Your only responsibility is for you to secure the ticket you are given.”

I can hardly ever see our lawmakers giving commercial establishments the right to demand that customers temporarily remove their hats or caps before service delivery. It is said that for a democracy to work effectively, the people within it must first achieve a basic level of education and civil understanding.

I honestly do not believe that Jamaica is there yet. Were we there, we would respect each other more in our driving on the road. On our public thoroughfares, we are little more than wild hogs.

So, think about it. a man enters a restaurant and he is wearing a cap or hat. He is asked to remove the cap before dining. War breaks out. Why?

What do you think?

- Mark Wignall is a political- and public-affairs analyst. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and mawigsr@gmail.com