Wed | Apr 1, 2020

Break cycle of fear to tackle crime, says former St Louis police chief

Published:Thursday | September 17, 2015 | 12:00 AM

Ahead of his visit to Jamaica to deliver the keynote address at the 25th anniversary awards banquet for Crime Stop, Dr Daniel Isom is arguing that the Police High Command should focus on breaking the cycle of fear in Jamaica if law enforcement is to put a serious dent in crime.

Isom, who is a retired police chief for the city of St Louis in the United States, has been credited with a 30 per cent reduction in crime throughout the city, as well as improving the systems of accountability within the police department.

Speaking with The Gleaner, Isom proffered thoughts on what he would do to tackle Jamaica's crime problem were he appointed commissioner of police for the island.

"I think the most important part is that you have to start to get information from the people on the ground. The most important information you will ever have is from the people in the neighbourhoods and the police who are on the street," he said.

"They are going to let you know what they believe is the problem and what you try to do is you marry that with knowledge, experience and research about what works in terms of lowering crime."

Isom also pointed out that crime is nurtured by a cycle of fear.

"Violence and murders are a cyclical pattern that happens. It feeds on itself and is almost like a disease that continues to grow and what you have to do is try to find a break in that. Oftentimes one of the major issues in terms of violence is fear; the community is very fearful of getting involved ... , and if you can't break that cycle of fear, then oftentimes crime goes unchecked," he added.


Isom went on to outline community outreach as another strategy he would employ. He said this would give people the confidence to become more involved in crime fighting and make the police force more accountable to the community.

Now a professor of policing at the Community University of Missouri, Isom has proven that he is a force to be reckoned with in terms of improving the effectiveness of the police service.

In 2008, when he assumed the post of police chief in St Louis, the police department was plagued with a number of scandals in the wake of the resignation of his predecessor.

Isom set about improving the image of the police by introducing systems for financial management and accountability. He also opened up channels of communication between the police and citizens. This, he said, led to a restoration of trust in the police and a decrease in crime in St Louis.