Focus needed on mental, social element of crime - McGregor
The trivial reasons that trigger disputes in Jamaica, often ending in death, speaks to a deeper societal problem, which, if not resolved, will continue to fuel the country's frightening murder rate, with the police always playing catch-up, believes Senior Superintendent of Police Steve McGregor.
He told last Thursday's official opening ceremony for the Kintyre Citizens' Association Community Resource Centre in East Rural St Andrew that Jamaica's murder rate has overshadowed the gains made by crime fighters in other areas.
"It is sad that for the last 13 to 14 years, we have been murdering over a thousand people in Jamaica on an average. Most of you don't know that. We don't need to be doing this. And all that the police are doing to reduce the opportunity - taking the guns off the street; arresting over 10,000 people every year for serious crimes - we continue to kill each other. So it is time now to focus on that mental side," McGregor stated.
"Why is it that two youngsters will be quarrelling over if Messi is greater than Ronaldo and one of them end up dead? There is nothing that the police can do that is going to stop that, but if we get closer to the community and try to influence that attitude that is fuelling that behaviour that is causing citizens to kill each other for so simple a reason, we will get to solving it."
The veteran crime fighter, who has a reputation for an unorthodox approach to community policing, including curfews for children, charged the audience to examine their lives and how they have failed to support the crime fighting process.
"If each and every one of you inside here today takes an introspective look into our lives, we have somebody in our family that is involved in criminal activities. And notice, I said each and everyone one of us. Yes, we have somebody in our families that is involved in criminal activity, but that is not the bad part. It is when the question is asked, 'What are you doing about it?'," he charged.
"Invariably, the answer will be 'nothing', but you expect we the police to know what is happening and come and solve it. We want you to get on board. That silent majority is remaining silent for too long. You must be a part of what we are doing to deal with crime and violence in our communities."
...We need a change in mindset - Gordon Webley
Joan Gordon Webley, the Opposition People's National Party (PNP) caretaker for the East Rural St Andrew constitu-ency, challenged residents to ensure that the overall objective of community renewal, for which the Kintyre Citizens' Association Community Re-source Centre was built, would be achieved.
Speaking last Thursday at the official opening ceremony, Gordon Webley offered a blueprint for success.
"Today's celebration has to be about a change in mindset, a change in your attitude, a change in our values because this is ours. It belongs to us," she said.
"Community executive members, you have to be strong and steadfast in your administration of this building and its programmes. You must be seen as fair and constructive, and you must lead with compassion. You must involve, wherever possible, as many of the community members. You must not allow community or national politics to tarnish the good name of what you have received today."
Member of Parliament Juliet Holness, who won the constituency seat on a Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) ticket, also spoke to the issue of political unity.
"I was just so happy when I was announced as the MP and nothing else because guess what? One family. From here on out, one family - no PNP, no JLP. We are one family in Kintyre!" she declared.
Holness alluded to a time gone by when political tensions ran high in the area but noted that that was no longer true.
"Kintyre used to be hot, hot, hot. Now when we hot, hot, hot, is the heat of the Sun, and we prefer it that way," she said to loud, sustained applause, before charging the residents to value the $16 million investment.
"So ladies and gentlemen, I don't have to tell you, if the centre is kept clean, pretty, and empty, we have not achieved what we want out of this centre. If we don't use it, we have lost it even if it is here."