LETTER OF THE DAY - Murder rate still too high to celebrate
THE EDITOR, SIR:
THE FOUR per cent reduction in murders from 2011 (1,125) to 2012 (1,083) is not cause for celebration. Not yet. The reason is straightforward: it is the result of fewer murders in the last three weeks of 2012. Up to December 8, three per day was the average rate. There will be reason to celebrate if the reduction keeps up. In March-April, the rate was two per day for seven weeks but it didn't keep up and was cancelled by later higher numbers.
The important data to hang on to is this: for the PAST TWO AND A HALF YEARS up to December 8, the AVERAGE MURDER RATE has stayed flat at THREE PER DAY. It has defied all talk about new strategies.
On the numbers side - since this is what the rational Peter Bunting with his finance background focuses on mainly (exclusively?) - even if a four per cent decline does consolidate over the next many weeks/months, it would be only an incremental improvement. But you declared, Peter, after your first 100 days in office, that such "incrementalism", "tinkering" (your words) "cannot possibly achieve" the "audacious goal of 12 [murders] per 100,000 by the end of this political term of office". You were dead right, as a Gleaner editorial (26/12/12) pointed out to Police Commissioner Owen Ellington when he recently reasserted the goal.
You declared your intention, Minister, of putting in place a "new paradigm", "new priorities and strategies, and the mobilisation of the entire society". Media advertisements are helpful (the one about rats excepted) but do not add up to a "mobilisation of the entire society". Good policing has been done in St Catherine and St James. But the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Task Force and more police and $600 million for new vehicles frankly don't add up to a "new paradigm". They differ only marginally from what previous "tough-talking ministers of national security" (your words) tried and failed with.
These are ALWAYS the resort of ministers of national security and, up to now, they have NEVER succeeded. For two and a half years, even coming after the impactful security forces operation in Tivoli (the full meaning and murderous dimension of which are not yet counted and grasped), they have not shaken the appalling three-per-day average, or done so only marginally.
The future we want will require something different from more "boots on the ground", a truly fresh strategy, a really new paradigm. It already exists in pockets in the work of Children First, Peace Mangement Initiative, Young Men Christian Association, and others.