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Political solution needed to solve crime problem

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

We in this space have never been more convinced of the need for a political solution to our crime problem than now, after a year when murders topped an abominable 1,600.

It is fair to say we have exhausted nearly all reasonable policy and operational initiatives to bring down the murder rate, with little to show by way of reduced numbers. We have changed security ministers and police commissioners to no avail.

And it remains a deep and seemingly unfathomable mystery that a small island with a relatively small population of 2.8 million cannot rein in the marauding gunmen, a good number of whom operate in plain daylight witnessed by large numbers of people who won't speak or are unwilling to speak to police about what they have seen.

Jamaicans don't tell what they know for reasons which are well known. They either fear that police, gunmen and politicians are in cahoots, and they talk at their own peril, or they are benefiting from the proceeds of crime and have no plans to cut off that source.

Our view is that while crime is unlikely ever to be wiped out — given our level of poverty, corruption, and the natural greed of men — if the people can be mobilised to work with the police, we will put a serious dent in it, even to the point of bringing it to manageable levels.

To unite Jamaicans to fight crime, the two major political parties have to make the painful but unavoidable leap to come together for one common onslaught. It might sound na´ve to the cynical, but it can be done.

Of course, we know all the obstacles in the way of political parties coming together to fight crime. No entity has benefited more from having gunmen in their employ than political parties. Schoolchildren in Mount Salem and Denham Town know this.

With the parties at one against the gunmen, providing no shelter and giving no solace, the populace will be emboldened to share what they know with the police. the police will also feel liberated to do their jobs without fear of punitive transfers or dismissal.

We do not suggest that this will be achieved overnight. There is no magic wand to wave. It might have to start with civil society rising up in the communities to demand that crime be taken out of the political arena, backed by a movement to vote out any politician or party which is not supportive.

Regrettably, politicians might be the last to come on board. The depth of character and commitment to nation that it would take to embarrass the system is hardly to be found in ambitious politicians whose main aim is to win state power at all cost.

But something has got to give, because we are getting closer to the anarchy and mayhem that has destroyed many other countries. We most certainly can't afford to wait until our beloved Jamaica goes down the drain to act.

Indeed, as one Jamaican visionary implores: “When all seems lost, act!”