THE EDITOR, Sir:
The media have been making much of the Munster matter in which the police were implicated in a large arms find. Apart from the initial curiosity, the country stopped talking about it within hours. Not that it is not important. But apart from the media, everyone knows that there have been many Munsters for many years. And there are some mobile Munsters too, making home deliveries.
While the media were breaking the story, a few questions exercised my mind. For example:
Of the 13,000 persons murdered in this country over the past 10 years, how many were killed with weaponry obtained from those we pay to serve and protect us?
Would it be unreasonable to assume that a bonus for making one's purchases from the police is that one would get police protection?
I am also asking myself, if the police are going to persist with this exotic Anancy story about the guns-for-drugs trade with Haiti, why would anyone hire a taxi and journey from Kingston to Negril to buy a meal deal at a KFC restaurant when it is available right here?
Bullets are very expensive. When a group of our poorest youngsters from our poorest communities fire hundreds of rounds and their rivals 'ansa back' with a more impressive display of fire power, it does not require glasses to see that they must be getting these bullets at highly discounted prices. Either the sellers are not making a profit or they are getting their supplies free.
The guns that were found (on Munster Road) are not suitable for bird shooting, they were made to kill people. So the sellers at Munster are really monsters.
A record number of cops have been held for criminal offences recently. Because of their behaviour, the police have been placed continuously under suspicion and treated like criminals or probationers. The result - as we have now come to realise - is that some of them have started to behave accordingly. The problem with this critical cornerstone of civilised existence is not limited to what Munster Road has revealed.
Late last year, a young man was able to produce videotapes of police abusing his pregnant wife and himself and threatening to kill him because he had the temerity to report a policeman who had damaged his car. The media took this matter to the country and everybody knew of the death threats by the police. But, to hell with the rest of us, minutes after he emerged from hiding to make arrangements to flee the country, he was slaughtered. If the Government was concerned, they have done a good job of keeping it from the rest of us.
Social scientists often link poverty and crime. Most ignore the correlation between systemic police corruption and high crime rates. Police corruption results in a decrease in public trust and respect for the police. Community policing, therefore, is virtually impossible. If people do not report crimes, provide evidence, serve as witnesses; and if jurors do not believe police testimony, criminals cannot be convicted.
One powerful anti-corruption device is simply the establishment of sound financial management practices, including a timely and efficient accounting system combined with punctual, professional reviews by internal and independent auditors. Reform needs to go beyond the immediately identified problem and look at the political and 'task' environments. There has to be an almost 360-degree change in structure and culture.
It would be foolhardy to see Munster Road as an individual aberration of an incidental nature to be treated with temporary repressive measures. Corruption and police misconduct are persistent and constantly recurring hazards generated in part by our political arrangements and the organisation itself. We are in trouble!
I am, etc.,