When it comes to fighting crime in Jamaica, observers would be forgiven for believing that real gains are the result of fortuitous happenings, like the Tivoli Gardens intervention of 2010.
Otherwise, it seems, policymakers and law enforcement officials are skipping about, covering gaping holes with cement contrived from the hot air of their words, as soothing as these sometimes seem.
It is within this context that we note the insistence of Glenmore Hinds, the deputy commission of police with responsibility for operations, that the constabulary is "not losing the fight against criminals".
Perhaps Mr Hinds is right. But it is not a war that they appear to be winning. Worse, we have not been told of a clear strategy by which they will gain the upper hand. Except, it is hope.
First, in the context of Jamaica, the real measure of crime is murder, for which we are top-three worst in the world for countries in which there is no organised conflict or war.
For the 265 days of this year, up to September 22, there were 860 reported murders in Jamaica, approximately five per cent higher than for the corresponding period in 2012. That translates to 3.2 murders a day.
If that average were maintained for the remaining 100 days of the year, there would be another 320 murders, or 1,180 for the rest of the calendar year, or eight-and-a-half per cent higher than last year when our murder rate was 40 per 100,000. It would also be the first increase in five years.
The reality, however, could be worse. Over the past two months, Jamaica recorded, on average, 4.8 murders, a day. Over 100 days, this average would translate to 480 murders, pushing the homicide toll for the year to 1,340. That would be the highest since the 14 per cent drop of 2010, when the move into Tivoli Gardens by the security forces against Christopher Coke's organisation destabilised gangs and criminals across the island.
What has become increasingly apparent is that the gains made in the fight against crime in the aftermath of the Tivoli intervention, have been lost. The increasing violence in west Kingston and rising lawlessness in downtown Kingston underline the situation.
AREAS OF CONCERN
Indeed, this raises questions about the viability of the Government's projection to reduce the homicide rate to 25 per 100,000 by 2016 - a quiet halving of Security Minister Peter Bunting's promise when he took office two years ago.
This was always going to happen once the guns remained in the hands of criminals. We also did not do a good enough job with two other factors over which the state had significant control capacity to fill the power vacuum of departed dons, and effective policing in at-risk communities.
This spectre of rising crime affects more than people's immediate sense of security. It has wider economic implications, too, given the heavy economic rent it imposes on production in Jamaica, slashing, it is estimated, as much as seven per cent from annual output.
It's time to return to an honest, holistic conversation about crime, leading, among other things, action that will help to reverse criminality. These must include dismantling their political garrisons, beyond the statements of disavowals by the parties.
If we fail to act now, the erosion of the post-Tivoli gains will accelerate.
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