By George Davis
The national security minister, Peter Bunting, took umbrage at an article written by Gleaner veteran Gary Spaulding and published on December 23 last year.
In his critique of the country's security boss, Spaulding noted that Bunting lacked the stature or charisma of the four men who immediately preceded him in charge of the portfolio. Spaulding noted that Bunting was too soft-spoken for a job that required a minister with enough presence to intimidate hardened criminals.
As a man who fancies himself a bit, Bunting wasn't too chipper about the analysis. In an opinion piece published by The Gleaner a week later, he noted that Spaulding's comments bordered on the inane. Inane, of course, is defined as anything which lacks sense or is basically silly.
Having belched Uncle Gary off his chest, Bunting went on to write about the various initiatives the Government would be pursuing in 2013 and which would drag the crime rate down even further. He spoke of the establishment of the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Task Force (MOCA) and the multimillion-dollar spend on new vehicles for the police.
The minister mentioned a number of key pieces of legislation to assist in the fight against crime, name-dropping DNA and anti-gang legislation, amendments to POCA, the Advance Fee Fraud Legislation, and the Evidence (Special Measures) Act 2012.
In the minister's own words, the PNP administration was far advanced in the preparation of these bills, despite the constraints in the legislative machinery.
Fast-forward almost 12 full months and the two pieces of legislation out of that batch which the police continuously clamour for, namely, DNA and anti-gang legislation, have yet to come to pass. The minister said on radio last week that he and his team at the ministry have done everything in their power to bring the DNA legislation to Parliament.
IMF above rising crime
Bunting said the delayed tabling of the bill was because the overburdened Office of the Chief Parliamentary Counsel had to be giving preference to legislation which had to be passed before the end of the calendar year under the current IMF programme.
In speaking what he believes to be the truth, the minister had no qualms admitting that two of the most critical tools in the police toolkit, according to the police themselves, were not yet in place because the IMF matters take precedence.
You can either smile ruefully and acknowledge his honesty in this regard, or simply smile ruefully. A country where so many crimes are committed by repeat offenders who know how to intimidate witnesses into avoiding the justice system must accept that there are matters even more important than that. That's what Bunting's acknowledgement is communicating to us.
Every chance he gets, the police commissioner bawls about how cases are falling apart because an absence of DNA assistance and a reluctance of persons to come to court means suspects are able to walk free and kill, then kill again. And yet we have to wait until the Government's draughtsman, poor thing, clears his desk of all the IMF priorities before he can address the DNA legislation. My God!
The last time murders came in at less than 1,000 for any calendar year was in 2003, when 975 cases were logged. Between that time and now, including the projection for the end of this year, 12,300 Jamaicans would have been murdered in their homeland.
Since Bunting took charge of the national security portfolio, just over 2,000 of those murders were committed. It has been said in song that men lie, women lie, but numbers don't. The minister may not like it, but in plain terms those numbers tell the truth of a murder situation not much better than before he took office.
We remember well how he analysed the murder figures when in Opposition and his infamous 'Dudus-is-gone-murders-will-decline' statement.
The problem isn't your critics, minister. Nor is the problem the analysis of the statistics by those who say you are not up to the job. The problem is the high incidence of crime under the watch of a man who promised us that he had the answers. It's a waste of time calling for you to be sacked. Just do the damn job!
George Davis is a journalist. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.