Fri | Dec 2, 2016

Drop in murder rate exaggerated

Published:Monday | January 5, 2015 | 12:00 AM

Drop in murder rate exaggerated


The "big-up" of the security forces by National Security Minister Peter Bunting is clearly justified. The persevering hard work of those civil servants and, implicitly, of Bunting himself deserves applause.

The praise is spoiled a bit, though, by exaggerations. These are indicated here, not to hurt the hope, but to spell out the task that still remains.

The main overkill is over the murder rate. A decrease of 16 per cent sounds impressive. The reality is a drop to eight murders every three days from nine last year (1,005 murders versus 1,128 divided each by 365, times three). Bragging would be justified only if the decrease was a sign of a trend, which, so far, is not clear.

Two other exaggerations are over credit. The first is over the marvellous decline in killings by police. This probably stems from INDECOM's action against police death squads in Clarendon, not mostly from a Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) initiative.

The lesson in this is the value of institutional reform. This must continue and be extended to the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and inside the JCF itself. It was a big mistake to have stopped the JCF reform process. This should be urgently and publicly corrected.

The second exaggeration is over the contribution of Unite for Change. This calls for facts - and a lot more work - to make it real. Violence is a sociocultural reality and has to be addressed that way. A certain kind of policing is, indeed, required but more crucially, a healing of deep wounds - psychological, social, economic - a challenging task for national security. It does have, however, some usable Inter-American Development Bank funding and a very useful tool in the Peace Management Initiative.

Horace Levy