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EDITORIAL - Brutality begets brutality

Published:Monday | May 3, 2010 | 12:00 AM

The inability of the police to staunch the wave of criminality across the island has induced yet another group of citizens to take the law into their own hands, resulting in the gruesome killing of a would-be thief in a small Clarendon village. It is clear that no sector of society is immune to acts of violence. Not even churches, schools and other public institutions are safe from the scourge of criminality. This time, the beheading of the alleged thief came after residents became aware that men were breaking into a church. The thieves had removed a number of items when they were attacked, and while three accomplices escaped, the fourth was not so lucky.

The endemic violence that has gripped this country for nearly a decade has motivated such reaction from time to time when the proverbial cup has become full and citizens have reached their wits' end. And one community member was not shy in issuing a warning to would-be criminals to stay away from their community. Yes, brutality begets brutality and lawlessness breeds more lawlessness.

Erosion of public safety

Rarely have the police been able to provide the relief from criminals that citizens have clamoured for, instead they have been more willing to assist persons in fleeing their homes rather than protecting them in their homes. And rarely have the police made big breaks in murder cases which have allowed them to make arrests and bring the perpetrators to justice. A report in The Sunday Gleaner painted a dire picture of the Jamaica Constabulary Force's crime-fighting capabilities with a lack of human resources to do the job. This is yet another manifestation of the precarious state of the nation's safety. Security is supposed to be a core task of the state, but a decade of escalating crime and violence has meant the steady erosion of public safety.

The art of evidence gathering

The force needs an additional 400 detectives to function effectively and efficiently. But the detectives of the JCF, even with better equipment, appear to have lost the art of meticulous evidence gathering, diligent collation of information and sound analysis. This explains why the police are not able to understand what is driving the upsurge in murders and get to the heart of the matter. The force needs a desperate overhaul.

The ugly truth is that narcotics trafficking, gun smuggling and gang violence are responsible for the notorious crime that has scarred our county. Recycled squads with fearsome names will not do it. No amount of crime-fighting strategy can succeed if we do not tackle these three towers of evil. This is an imperative as we move forward.

While the administration dithers, murderous gangs roam the country. Given the gravity of the security concerns in the country today, the prospects for more communities dispensing their own justice could become greater than at any other time in our history.

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