Letters to the Editor

Two wrongs

Friday, April 13, 2018

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Dear Editor,

Two wrong notions in this week's parliamentary talk about the zones of special operations (ZOSO) just have to be knocked. One is the nonsense notion that the 'plan' is to tackle murderous violence community by community.

Really? And how many years will that take while murders continue to rocket up by 20 per cent across the rest of the country? As the People's National Party spokespersons make it very clear, this is just not acceptable. It is Jamaica's people who are dying and traumatised.

Isn't it obvious that two ZOSOs, or even four, as presently constructed with each requiring 300 to 400 military and police, is not cutting it? Why? Because, to begin with, the human resources are limited. But face it: We are on a path to another 1,600-1,800 murders in 2018. Another route has to be chosen and chosen now.

Which brings up the second crazy notion, the advice of the security forces that decides what to do about our violence and murder: That it is not a politics decision. It is a politics decision; not the partisan kind of politics, but politics. Leave it to the police and the army and only one kind of solution emerges, and that is more of only or chiefly the tried and failed repression.

But no long-term solution to murder can lie chiefly in repression. Repression is part of the answer; the short-term step. But the principal part has to be prevention. Prevention means social intervention. This is your political decision, Mr Prime Minister and Mr Opposition Leader. It is time you politicians learn to listen.

Concretely that could mean a new kind of ZOSO. Let's call it a ZOSSI (zone of special social intervention), where the balance between repression and intervention is tilted to the second element. That would be a security post of 15 to 20 soldiers and police (solving their human-power problem), and a social post of seven to 10 violence interrupters and social workers from civil society (coupled with substantial private and public sector infrastructure input).

An aggressive 'plan' would be to do this in 30 to 40 presently volatile and potentially vulnerable communities. And do it immediately. Selection would be the joint task of a combined security, bipartisan and civil society committee. At 1,600-1,800 murders, we must not allow this to happen in 2018. Must not! The alternative is military coup, isn't it? A country built on an oversized security force is another kind of obesity. Let's go!

Horace Levy





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