Wed | Jun 3, 2020

Jamaica’s crime problem solved?

Published:Friday | July 3, 2015 | 5:12 PM


Having recently been issued a ticket for a questionable 'violation of the road act', it occurred to me that the island's crime problem must certainly have been solved. Why else would the police have so much time to conduct repetitive (vehicle) 'papers' checks, and to issue tickets for obscure breaches?

My recent ticket was written as 'permit body extending', which actually sounded a bit obscene. Living in Irish Town, a largely rural area, I customarily provide free rides to workers, students, and others in my community who would otherwise be reliant on a subpar public transportation system.

In this instance, I was transporting five fellow residents (three inside the vehicle, and two in the bed of the pickup truck) down to Papine when I was stopped and ticketed by a one-officer roadblock. Apparently, one of the two passengers in the bed of truck had a 'body part extending'.

At a time when police-public relations are already severely strained (READ: Mario Deane), this sort of petty and misplaced application of the 'road act' seems anything but constructive. For example, a recent poll conducted by Bill Johnson (for The Gleaner) concluded that Jamaicans considered 80 per cent of the constabulary to be corrupt. Could this 80 per cent figure correlate with the perception that so many roadblocks and 'papers' checks are little more than state-sponsored extortion stops?

When the average motorist is pulled over in a roadblock, what is his/her first thought? That there is an 80 per cent probability that the 'random check' is nothing more than an attempt to extort money?

more pressing priorities

Most citizens would prefer that limited Jamaica Constabulary Force resources were deployed to fighting serious crime. And let's face it: Jamaica has a serious crime problem. Unacceptably high rates of murder and other violent crimes suggest that the constabulary should have more pressing priorities than pursuing infractions such as a 'body part extending ' by a few inches.

So I urge the new commissioner to instil some semblance of discretion among his new charges. Roadblocks, obvious speed traps, repetitive 'papers' checks, and misguided applications of the road act do little to instil confidence that the constabulary has its priorities right - particularly in light of the 'left or right' options (READ: extortion efforts) attending so many of these 'law-enforcement' efforts.


Irish Town, St Andrew