Tue | Nov 24, 2020

ZOSO will not fix all our problems

Published:Wednesday | September 13, 2017 | 12:00 AM


The Prime Minister declared Mount Salem, St James as the first Zone of Special Operations (ZOSO) on September 1, 2017 under the law reform (Zones of Special Operations) Special Security and Community Development Measures) Act.

ZOSO, in the words of the Prime Minister, will "establish and restore public order, citizen security, and public safety. We will make Jamaica safe again". How will that work when citizens are still afraid to volunteer information about criminal forces in their communities and there is a lack of trust between the police and society at large?

Suddenly, the police are empowered to do the work that they were supposed to be doing in the first place, "serve, protect and reassure".

The reintegration of unattached or at-risk youth in Mount Salem is not a 'helping hand'. Detailed assessments about unattached and at-risk youth should be an active strategy nationwide for a government that cares so deeply about education. How does a ministry proclaim that "every child can learn, every child must learn", when they are neglecting to implement strategies for these youth from the beginning?

Incorrect figures, a highly publicised crime solution, and criminals going into hiding or left scampering for other parishes - when will we ever get it right? The social-intervention component is a nice touch to invest in communities that should have been receiving help from the start. But we have to admit, there's more that needs to be done than dreaming up soft tactics to please the ideals of a select few.

We can't empower citizens to speak up about crimes in communities when we don't provide adequate protection for them while doing so by means of an effective witness-protection system. And we can't convict suspects without a proper justice system.

ZOSO cannot be the end all, be all to fixing our crime situation.

Mikhail Williams

Youth Advocate