Bertel Moore, chairman of the Westmoreland Parish Council and mayor of Savanna-la-Mar, is often, sometimes by this newspaper, characterised as outspoken. His recent statements, however, cast him more as moronic and imbecilic.
Mr Moore's preferred solution for rising crime, especially murders - of which there were 21 for the months of July and August - in his parish, is for the police to shoot presumed criminals and ask questions later. He, surprisingly, did not add the bit, as one prime minister is supposed to have done, about not reading the Beatitudes to the targeted victims.
Thankfully, the head of the police in western Jamaica, including Mr Moore's parish, is not nearly as foolish and disrespectful of the law and human rights as the mayor.
So, Assistant Commissioner Warren Clarke has rejected Mr Moore's advice. "We (the police) are duty-bound to fire when our lives, or somebody else's life, is threatened," said Mr Clarke.
EXTRAJUDICIAL KILLING SPREE
It is important, we believe, that Mr Clarke, and the Police High Command, reinforce the constabulary's use-of-force policy lest its members, especially those in Westmoreland, believe that they have support to embark on an extrajudicial killing spree. Indeed, this is an accusation often levelled against Jamaica's police, who on average kill more than 200 people annually.
It is not enough for Mr Moore to be merely criticised in these columns for his blatantly inappropriate statement. Nor is it sufficient that he get a bit of adult advice from a senior police officer and a slap on the wrist from the higher-ups in his political party - if that happens.
By his utterance, Mr Moore declared himself unfit to be head of a local-government authority and mayor of an important Jamaican town. He should, therefore, resign the posts. If he doesn't, he should be removed by his colleague councillors.
Those who defend Mr Moore will argue that he spoke in frustration, or that the judicial process has proved itself incapable of dealing with crime in Jamaica.
On the first point, we would expect the chairman of a parish council to give serious thought to his ideas before he makes important public pronouncements. Further, having made pellucidly stupid statements, we would expect a quick retreat and apology - neither of which was forthcoming from Mr Moore.
RECIPE FOR ANARCHY
Further, incompetence and/or inefficiency in law enforcement and the judicial system can't be solved by having the police go with guns blazing at anyone who may have been accused of a crime. Even Mr Moore, his moral and intellectual haze notwithstanding, must see that that would be a recipe for anarchy and social decay.
What Mr Moore's successor, who we hope will be in place in short order, must insist upon are accelerated efforts to ensure a modern, effective and disciplined constabulary and an efficient judicial system capable of disposing of cases in a timely manner. They must also be accountable.
Success in these will help to build public confidence in the process and, over time, lessen the belief among some law-enforcement officers that they carry an obligation to be jury and executioner.
Mr Moore's successor must also insist that, even as it displays fiscal discipline, the Government create an environment encouraging of investment, growth and job creation, which, unfortunately, was the missing ingredient from the analysis on a cause of rising crime, to which parliamentarians were recently subjected.
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