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Mark Wignall | Another Adams is not the answer

Published:Thursday | July 18, 2019 | 12:00 AM

As Central Manchester Member of Parliament Peter Bunting mines his People’s National Party (PNP) relevance by criticising the prime minister and comparing high rates of murder in PNP times with higher numbers of our people slaughtered by fellow Jamaicans in JLP times, it is not a surprise that a part of the larger discourse has opened up the need among some to see tougher and more lethal policing.

One reader emailed me about a week ago: “Your article on the subject points to the need that in today’s crime-filled Jamaica, we must fight fire with fire. Today, we have few, if any, cops that the gunmen really fear. Many of the cops are in league with criminality. The bleeding hearts complain when police take the lives of criminals, but only wring their hands when killings by criminals take place. Our crime-fighting efforts must be ruthless or else we will lose control of the streets. Oh, for another Adams!”

At times, little parts of me support large parts of the Adams’ style of lethal policing; not as making it into the general style of tough policing, but specifically to target men and gang leaders who have become mad dogs. The caveat comes with recognising that when members of the security forces become too highly empowered like Adams and his Crime Management Unit (CMU) where it is much more difficult to tone down the questionable killings than it was to create the crime-fighting monster.

Plus, in plain language, it was during Peter Phillips’ time as security minister and with lethal policing in place (2005) that Jamaica had the dishonour to become the most murderous country (per capita) on the face of the earth. So, that alone negates lethal policing as effective in driving down high murder rates, or even just containing them.

Another reader has suggested that the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) basic tenets of maintaining high rates of discipline ought to be utilised: “My take on this is that the increase in JDF personnel is a recognition that the JCF is totally corrupted and it cannot be trusted to mould recruits. So recruit through JDF established service tenets, train and then filter into the police force as you replace the bad eggs. The new leadership should emerge from this source. All the other ways of renewal in the force has failed.”

Peter Bunting is currently the toast of the town, but he ought to be careful with the extent to which he is prepared to contradict PM Andrew Holness in the state of emergency (SOE), his non-support of it and his additional need to bring political distance between his stance and that of Peter Phillips, president of the PNP and the man he hopes to topple come September.

Fact is, Andrew Holness is more popular than his own party and he outdistances Peter Phillips and the PNP by more than a country mile and twice as much as a town kilometre. It is quite possible that Bunting is seeing the effectiveness of the SOEs as growing stale, and is betting that by next year, PM Andrew Holness will be forced to bawl out to heaven for its manna in fighting crime. A gamble on the part of Bunting.

That said, the PNP or, to be more accurate, the Phillips’ arm of the PNP, is trying much too hard to outdistance itself from the Bunting Rise United arm that it is prepared to script its own tale of tearing the PNP apart by staging a House walkout against Bunting last Tuesday.

Already one can sense which team is fighting for space at the rear.