Fri | Nov 16, 2018

Resurrect PJ's old plan to cripple crime

Published:Wednesday | January 24, 2018 | 12:00 AM



The more I read articles about our burgeoning crime problems, the more I come to the conclusion that the real answer lies in the proposal made by former Prime Minister P.J. Patterson when he was in office more than a decade ago.

Having read the most recent article on the topic in Tuesday's editorial of The Gleaner, which cited improvements in crime fighting in two US states and said, inter alia, that "cities have improved street lighting; there are now better security systems for buildings and vehicles; more CCTV cameras, cash is being replaced by electronic transactions; and most consumer goods

have become cheaper, which makes it less profitable to steal them," I am convinced that it may take quite a while for us to forge a consensus on the way forward because measures implicit in the quote above might not be relevant to our scheme of things.

For, to my mind, many of the strategies that have worked and are currently reaping success in some countries and states may not have the same results here. One of the reasons for this has to do with the matter of culture.


Always on the opposition


We Jamaicans have developed, over the years, the uncanny ability to be absolutely cynical, to debate everything and to be morbidly resistant to anything - good or bad. So ingrained is this quality of ours that we only need to hear, for instance, someone whom we dislike speak on any topic only for us to oppose them to shreds. Those in leadership, too, are not immune to this malady, as they will oppose until they oppose themselves, as it were, and as the saying goes, 'Rome burns while Nero fiddles'.

The real answer to our crime problem is endemic - a matter of our values and attitudes. It is not the gun, because we also use knives and cutlasses,

too, and there are countries like the US and Iceland that are awash with guns whose crime rates are much lower than ours. Neither is it poverty, since the majority of Jamaicans are poor, and major crimes are not being committed by most of us.

Our crimes and other problems have to do with the state of our hearts. We had a very insightful speech at this year's National Leadership Prayer Breakfast that truly hit the nail on the head in this regard, but for many of us and for many of our leaders, that is the end of that.

What a beauty it would be to have our PM really leading the way by getting into the sackcloth-and-ashes mentality that he read about at the same breakfast so that our people can begin to trust the electoral system - for this is a symptom of our greater crime problems - 'buy'-elections, fake de-bushings and character assassinations of opposition members, especially at election time.

Is it, therefore, possible for The Gleaner, for example, not just to implement those programmes that increase its popularity easily but also try, in collaboration with other entities, to lead a yearlong campaign on values and attitudes - those qualities of which we are so woefully short as a people, in order for us to have a Jamaica where we can raise families, do business and retire.