Sat | Aug 19, 2017

Letter of the day: For the love of money

Published:Wednesday | July 8, 2015 | 7:18 AM

 

EARLIER THIS week, Police Commissioner Dr Carl Williams informed Jamaicans of a new initiative to reduce gun-related crimes.

One supposes, in an effort to reduce the worrying crime rate, Dr Williams felt it necessary to seek out some attractive and effective measures to remove illegal guns from the streets.

What Dr Williams termed the ‘Get the Guns Campaign’ looks to target individuals with information about illegal guns and a willingness to share such information with authorities in order to receive monetary incentives.

The Jamaica I grew up in showed a disdain for informants. In many a song, the message was a clear: “infarma fih dead”.

That the police commissioner is hopeful, or even expectant, that Jamaicans would support this venture of his must either speak to a changed Jamaica from the one I grew up in, or a misguided attempt by the head crime-fighting honcho to find a way out of the embarrassingly high levels of crime across the island.

SENDING THE WRONG MESSAGE

This author has no desire to place Dr Williams’ recently announced effort under the microscope. At the very least, the commish is willing to try something. But the primary concern of this author is what message is the police commissioner sending to the wider world about Jamaicans and our love for money.

There is little debating the importance of money in our lives. It provides the means for so much. Whether gained legally or illegally, we love money. And so some of us work our hides off to get it, some think up creative ways to take it from others, and very few exist that can afford to give it away.

There is absolutely nothing intrinsically wrong with loving money. The book of Timothy in the Bible, however, reminds us that it is potentially dangerous to love money, and it is easy to see why. When one is willing to do anything to get money, or when one is willing to compromise one’s moral and ethical standards in order to acquire money, that person is playing a potentially destructive game.

Jamaicans are not simple-minded people. And I am sure the intent of the police commissioner is not to condescend to us. It helps that the commissioner appealed to our humanity and our pride and dignity as Jamaicans. That will surely go some distance in garnering support for his initiative.

There is little doubt that some will inform the authorities and get their monetary incentives. There is little doubt that there are those who have knowledge of the whereabouts of these illegal weapons and will choose to keep their mouths shut. And there is little doubt that this initiative may actually bear some fruit. But our creative genius is world-class. Criminals will continue to find ways to commit crimes.

Trying to remove illegal guns from off the streets is a noble venture at best. The recently announced initiative by the island’s police commissioner to reduce the crime rate is controversial. Paying people for information has ethical implications. The idea is nothing new, and it might even be effective. But as long as there is a demand for guns, there will exist a black market for guns.

 

DEXTER WHARTON 

Communications officer

Global Interfaith Council