Nadisha Hunter, Gleaner Writer
Int'l group warns cops violent policing won't solve Jamaica's crime
With growing anger in several communities about alleged extrajudicial killings by members of the police force, an international group is warning that this could fuel more crime.
The Chicago-based Ceasefire International is warning the local police that violently aggressive law enforcement will not put the brakes on crime in the volatile communities across the island.
records show at least one person killed by the police every two days since the start of the year, with 39 fatal shootings reported by the Constabulary Communication Network.
In all the cases the police have claimed the victims either pointed a firearm at them or fired at them and the fire was returned with deadly results.
However, from Maverley in Kingston to Portmore, St Catherine, and Norwood, St James, residents have challenged the police's version with the all-too-familiar claim that the men were murdered.
That is what is worrying Ceasefire International, which is an umbrella group that works with community and government partners to reduce violence.
"A lot of things that the police do .... they are actually extremely counterproductive and they make things worse, even though they may have the right intention," said Dr Gary Slutkin of Ceasefire International, during a forum in New Kingston this week.
Slutkin warned that, even if the police were to use force to end violence in communities, this would be a temporary solution.
In a clear broadside at the trigger happy cops, Slutkin repeated the refrain of local human rights groups as he warned that the fatal shooting of alleged gunmen and murderers was not the answer.
He said that strategy could cause community members to develop a level of aggression towards the security forces.
"There is so much science on this now that (makes it clear that) when police show up with guns it causes the community and the high-risk people to want to use guns more. So very aggressive policing, although I know that it is very common here, is not such a good idea," added Slutkin.
He called for a partnership involving the Ministry of National Security, the Peace Management Initiative and Chicago Ceasefire to stem the social problems that breed crime.
That is an approach favoured by Ceasefire International liaison officer Norman Kerr, even as he noted the worrying level of crime facing the country.
Kerr said social intervention is the ideal solution to Jamaica's crime problem despite the economic challenges facing the country.
"The people want to feel like they are being thought about, so maybe you don't have this amount of jobs but you understand that they are going through this problem and you offer to help so they will know that you acknowledge them," argued Kerr.
That message was underscored by residents of several inner-city communities who pointed to the social challenges that contribute to the crime in their areas.
One resident of Duhaney Park, St Andrew, argued that while the sometimes volatile community is quiet now, there is fear of an uproar as the residents are being neglected.