Sun | Aug 20, 2017

Cops must tackle Holborn Road robbers

Published:Saturday | December 10, 2016 | 12:00 AM

MARK-PAUL COWAN

Attorney-at-law

 

Jamaicans are often depicted by government officials as unreasonable and lacking in understanding when we say we have no confidence in the ability of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) to make us feel safe.

It is said that we do not appreciate the impossible constraints and harsh environment in which brave, underpaid officers are asked to fight crime. While this is true to an extent, it also true that in many instances, the effort, attitude, diligence and approach of members of the JCF leave the average citizen befuddled and frustrated.

Case in point: the scourge of Holborn Road. It has been widely known for years that robberies and attempted robberies frequently take place at the top of Holborn Road, even in broad daylight.

The perpetrators are sometimes referred to as the 'gully boys'. They emerge from culverts, hide in the shadows of the park right across from the Sagicor building, and target unsuspecting road users approaching the traffic lights. They pull car doors and take items and snatch cell phones in use right off your face! They have attacked persons early in the morning on foot headed for work.

The stories are innumerable, and the perpetrators are, by and large, the same.

Beyond the trauma and loss suffered by the victims, the tragedy of this New Kingston epidemic is the inability and/or unwillingness of the police force to bring these criminals to justice.

Officers nonchalantly admit to knowing of the epidemic when reports are given, but no concerted effort is made to deal with the problem. The response times are slow; sting and surveillance operations are too few, if carried out at all; and there is no evidence of a strategy to rid Kingston's top business hub of this scourge.

How can corporate entities feel comfortable investing in our economy and business community when such base criminality goes unchecked on a street within the vicinity of Sagicor Life Jamaica Limited, Scotia Investments Jamaica Limited, Pulse Investments Limited, Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica and other establishments?

The JCF defines its mission as an effort to "serve, protect and reassure the people in Jamaica through the delivery of impartial and professional services aimed at maintenance of law and order, protection of life and property, prevention and detection of crime and the preservation of peace".

But the reality of what's now an unfortunate and predictable occurrence in New Kingston has completely contradicted or called into question this formal statement.

So given how rampant, predictable and dangerous these criminal activities are, why is it that the authorities have failed to mitigate these dangers that pose a threat to both the lives of hard-working citizens and this business community?

Given the many reported incidents, witness statements and intelligence, what resources are the authorities lacking in order to protect the citizenry through their service? In addition to being more mindful of our personal security and reporting these illegal activities, what else can the public do in ensuring that we are protected?

Dr Carl Williams, no amount of resources can make up for pride and effort. Jamaicans can appreciate the difficulties involved in investigating and prosecuting sophisticated cybercrimes and organised gang activity. It is, however, hard to understand how petty criminals on the streets of New Kingston are so openly and perennially successful in robbing hard-working Jamaicans without any sensible police intervention.

Let this sound as a call for action and a timely reminder of the mission, vision and values of the JCF during this frenetic season.