Fri | Sep 30, 2016

Treat them as terrorists

Published:Thursday | February 25, 2010 | 12:00 AM

The Editor,
Sir
:

This is an open letter to the Government of Jamaica and the acting commissioner of police.

Daily, I read about the wanton killing, rape and terrorising of our citizens by elements of the society deemed to be criminals. I have been shouting in the wilderness that these men are not just criminals, they are terrorists and must be treated as such. They use terror and threats of terror to achieve their ends, as well as to frighten the population into silence.

They are also successful in using the medium of dancehall to label persons 'informer' if they were to speak to the police, understanding full well the impact of this medium on impressionable minds. If this is to continue, we will lose another generation of Jamaicans, as well as the continued erosion of the Jamaican way of life.

Proactive approach

With that said, the day-to-day policing of Jamaica's neighbourhoods must reflect a more proactive approach. All too often we see instances of the leadership of the police at the station level all the way up the chain of command caught flat-footed in cases where they could have easily anticipated the next move of the criminal elements, but did nothing.

I do not think that the police are lazy or it's because they are all corrupt, as some would like to have us believe. I do believe that like most of the society, the police are too complacent and by the same measure fail to institute the necessary preventative measures that are a must if there is to be a bend in the curve of the crime statistics.

It is important to note that if crime and terror are to be reduced, we must instil a sense of urgency in the way we deal with the question of law enforcement. We must adopt measures that are less predictable to those who have made the decision that crime and terror are a profitable way of life. We must now seek to beef up intelligence-gathering and be less conspicuous and creative in the way we seek to gather intelligence. In other words, we must be where the criminals are, or have credible assets within their ranks.

The police must also realise that they are the ones who bear the burden of lowering the incidence of crime even when they are not given the necessary tools with which to do the job. The challenge is to be more creative with the limited resources at their disposal.

Responsibilities

The elected officials must now live up to the responsibilities vested in them and not only dissociate themselves from crime and criminals, and enact meaningful legislation with teeth - legislation that will not only put criminals behind bars but be a deterrent to other would-be offenders. There must be truth in sentencing for serious offences. Unless there are mitigating factors, there must be uniformity in the sentences imposed, removing this discretion from judges eliminates corruption, or the perception thereof.

Only when we have decided to do these things and remove the system of interference in law enforcement we are so accustomed to in Jamaica by those in politics who feel they are above the law will we see any difference.

I am, etc.,

MIKE BECKLES

excellence3@verizon.net

Poughkeepsie

New York