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‘A matter of trust’ - Solve crime by taking care of information, says former FBI agent

Published:Friday | January 3, 2020 | 12:00 AMPaul Clarke/Gleaner Writer

Jamaica-born retired Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Special Agent Jonathan Lacey believes that much of the country’s crime issues can be solved by, among other things, the security forces being a great deal more responsive to the public.

He said that how the State’s security apparatus deals with information it receives is critical in addressing many unanswered questions around solving the crime problem.

“People in all jurisdictions want to know that whoever they speak to, whichever institution they engage with [about] their concerns, that something will be done about it,” Lacey said.

“It is a matter of trust, and it is more than about trust at the same time. It is about them being way more responsive.”

The 22-year FBI veteran was born in Mandeville, Manchester, before migrating to the United States (US) as a child.

He reasoned that while there were some similarities in relation to gun violence in Jamaica and the US, the manifestations were somewhat different because of the distinct gun cultures.

In the US, for example, Americans are protected by that country’s Second Amendment to keep and bear arms while it is illegal to bear arms in Jamaica unless licensed to do so.

Police statistics reveal that the vast number of murders committed in Jamaica over several decades have been directly linked to the plethora of illegal guns in the hands of criminals and that many of them are gang-related.

As a result, the Jamaican Government has employed a number of special security measures – states of emergency and zones of special operations – to address the spiralling crime.

But even with increased security measures, up to December 28 last year, 1,326 people had been killed, up by 43 for all of 2018 when 1,287 people were murdered.

The year 2009 remains the country’s bloodiest on record, with 1,680 murders.


Lacey believes that part of the problem is how the information received by the security forces is used.

He says that solving crime, particularly murders, should mean more than just making arrests.

“We won’t be arresting our way out of that problem. What we need for that is counselling, some social services, and jobs with law enforcement.

“Further, there has to be real economic opportunities, social support, and psychological intervention in some cases, as part of a broad-based approach to solve this complex, multifaceted problem of crime,” said Lacey, who now operates his own security firm, Security & Training Solutions, LLC (STS), in Buffalo, New York.