Gleaner crime forum | Fix police corruption, fix crime in Westmoreland
While accepting that there is no immediate quick fix to Westmorland's crime problem, key stakeholders in the parish believe the place to start is weeding out corruption in the ranks of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF).
And they will get the backing of the man who now heads the police in the parish, Superintendent Lanford Salmon, who told a Gleaner crime forum at the Sean Lavery Centre in Savanna-la-Mar last Thursday that he was determined to rid his team of those not toeing the line.
"I have had three situations that came to my notice when I arrived here and I have dealt with them, and I am looking more because I am not afraid if they are corrupt," said Salmon.
"We have to move them out because it hinders progress, public trust and confidence. So we need that going forward," added Salmon.
He noted that for this to be done, he needs the support of residents who now claim they are not coming forward because of fear.
"Some Jamaicans like to say that they don't trust the police and, yes, I must admit that there are some police you definitely cannot trust, but the majority of the members (of the JCF) are decent ... and there are routes you can use to get the information to them," said Salmon.
"So sitting at home and saying you don't trust and keeping the information is not helping us as a society. Jamaica's main problem is indiscipline and lawlessness, so all of us have to come together and join hands," added Salmon.
He was offered free advice by stakeholders at the forum who called for more focus on community policing to counteract the distrust of the residents.
"There needs to be zero tolerance of motorcycle [riders] without proper road licensing because most of the shootings that happen here are motorbike related," argued David Blackham, academic and school development consultant.
"Also, what the police should do, all the motorcycle dealers in the parish should provide details of the persons who purchase motorcycles. The police will take away a bike today and the boy come buy another one tomorrow," added Blackham.
'All-men march' in to target at-risk youth
For Barbara Dandy, dean of discipline at the Godfrey Stewart High School in Savanna-la-Mar, the solution to Westmoreland's crime problem lies in programmes targeting at-risk youths who have dropped out of the education system.
Bishop Mark McLean, pastor of the Hertford New Testament Church of God in Westmorland, already has plans to lead the charge in rescuing these youths.
"One of the solutions, as a church and the Christian men of Westmoreland, we will be meeting to plan an all-men march in Westmoreland. It is going to take us a period of time because we want to start in Savanna-la-Mar first and take it in other communities," said McLean.
"We want to do that to allow the criminals to recognise that lives can be changed. Some of us are living testimony that what we do, we don't do it no more. So that is what the church has planned now," added McLean.