Smarter policing cuts crime - Bunting
National Security Minister Peter Bunting is attributing the recent decline in criminal activities to smarter policing, in keeping with the increasing recognition that in many ways, the traditional reactive policing methods cannot meet the modern-day challenges of securing communities.
The minister yesterday reported a 16.6 per cent decline in murders over the past year to date, with a 30 per cent reduction in arrests overall - a 20 per cent reduction in arrests to date.
"With these community efforts, we have reduced the number of persons in lock-ups by 25 per cent and about 10 per cent in our correctional facilities. Female detainees have also been reduced significantly - by 60 per cent so far for this year," Bunting said.
The wind of change that has, been sweeping across the Jamaica Constabulary Force, according to Bunting, reflects the efforts of the High Command to revamp the way in which the security forces interact with civilians as they execute their daily duties.
"There is a paradigm shift in policing in Jamaica that will reach outside of the government structure and incorporate civil society in its crime-fighting efforts," Bunting said.
He said with multi-causal reasons for criminal activities, public perception of the police is an important factor in eliciting and gaining public support for crime-fighting strategies.
Public perception, he said, is that members of the force are unnecessarily excessive in their treatment of those with whom they come into contact.
"We have almost eliminated curfews. After being in discussions with community members, we decided that only when it is absolutely necessary, should a curfew be implemented in any community," Bunting said.
Bunting, in an address at the launch of Crime Stop Jamaica's newest initiative in encouraging Jamaicans to report criminal activities, said this perception is widespread and lingers despite the best efforts of the police to change it.
New crime-prevention strategies, he said, must be complemented by strategies to increase the public awareness of crime-prevention measures; to disseminate information on crime prevention through community groups, schools, and the media; and to enlist community support for crime-prevention strategies.
"We are going into the communities and we are adapting to what the situation demands. We are moving away from our traditional paramilitary-style gear and have been implementing a civilian style of dress for our police officers. We are doing better by doing less, and so far, we have yielded results with our efforts to make Jamaica safe and secure," Bunting said.
Other social-intervention programmes have also been revamped, including the Citizen Security and Justice Programme, which will receive an additional boost of US$55 million over the next four years. A national movement and public awareness campaign, Unite for Change, was also launched recently. It is aimed at empowering each citizen to take back Jamaica from the clutches of criminals.