LETTER OF THE DAY - Community policing a welcome change

Published: Monday | December 30, 2013 Comments 0


It appears that the Ministry of National Security (MNS) is about to address the murder problem by paying attention to community needs and to community-based policing. Even if late in coming, this is most welcome.

This good news emerges from statements of Minister Peter Bunting in a TVJ programme of December 11, and recently of Courtney Brown, MNS director of crime prevention and community safety. The just-launched public-awareness campaign 'Unite for Change', for all its lack of key specifics, does leave one with the sense that an attempt is being made to come up with a serious plan and a strategy.

The view attributed to Brown that "prevention strategies, combined with law-enforcement approaches, would yield more positive results" is one that the Peace Management Initiative has been shouting for years. Balance between prevention and enforcement is the crux of the matter. Up to now, balance has been absent; enforcement of the worst kind has ruled without check.

An episode on the 20th of this month in August Town is an example of both good policing and 'policing' of the worst kind. An undercover policeman, after successfully tracking a known bad-man to a particular bar, was fatally shot. A truly tragic and regrettable event.

Then another tragedy as police, seemingly because one of their own had been killed, reportedly descend en masse on Jungle 12, went on a rampage, many masked, intimidating people. As Tyrone Reid in The Sunday Gleaner (29/12) details, residents claim that the police shot to death the young man, Evian, as he emerged from the toilet, drawing up his trousers. People in the area testified that Evian always ran away from gunfire.

Murderous gangster behaviour by some police, without disapproval from the top, makes us sceptical of any alleged 'shoot-out' killings of those 'wanted' for umpteen murders attributed (on what evidence?) to them. And since when should 'wanted' give licence to kill?

These are the kinds of things that Bunting and Brown's murder 'prevention' plan must free us from. We wait to see how the promises play out.

Horace Levy

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