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Statistics and the state of emergency

BY JASON MCKAY

Sunday, May 13, 2018

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LET me start by congratulating both sides of Parliament for agreeing to extend the state of emergency. It is the first in a long time that decisions are being made for the country at the expense of political capital.

Maybe they both realise that if the gangs are not defeated, the country they fight to govern or keep governing will not be worth anything.

As I said in an interview the night before the decision, “only good men are involved here, they will make the right decision” and the decision they took will save lives.

Leading up to this agreement, I saw and heard statistics being analysed about the success or failure of the state of emergency. Indeed, listening to some people, one would have thought that more murders were committed under the state of emergency than were committed in the same period last year. That, of course, is not true. Let's analyse.

Jamaica's two primary killing zones — Spanish Town and Montego Bay — have both been under a state of emergency since March 18, so we are going to examine the period where both killing zones went under a state of emergency from March 18 to April 30. This is a period of 44 days.

During this period Jamaica experienced 173 murders. In this same period in 2017, Jamaica experienced 176 murders. That is a 1.7 per cent reduction over the same period last year.

Now, if you should look at the murder rate from January 1 to April 30, you will get a different picture. This because you have included a period of time in the calculation where Jamaica was not conducting two States of Emergency and in actuality was at one point conducting none.

So, logically speaking, if you want to analyse murdered victims under the dual-zone state of emergency then you should examine the period that there was actually a dual zone state of emergency being conducted and not include time periods where no state of emergency was in effect.

To be frank, I have never really agreed with comparing murder stats that are one year apart. I believe more in analysis that compares from first quarter to second quarter, etc.

I say this because if you want to see the effectiveness of short-term measures, you have to look on the period right before the measures are taken and compare it with the reaction after the measures are implemented.

So, since we have examined the 44 days from March 18 to April 30, 2018 and compared them with the same period last year, let us now look at a month in 2018 with virtually no state of emergency and compare the murder statistics of April, in which two states of emergency were in effect. So we will compare January 2018 to April 2018.

In January, 144 people were killed nationally. In April, 121 people were killed nationally. This is a decrease of 23 murders. Remember also, January has one more day than April, yet the statistics still show a 15.97 per cent decrease. This is a clear indication that there are less killings under the state of emergency.

I understand that it is expensive, internationally embarrassing and a terrible inconvenience for hundreds of poor young men who are detained for hours and then released. To the point that it is expensive, I would remind you that it is people being killed, not poultry, so money doesn't matter.

To the critics of the detention policy being applied to the poor young men I would ask, would you prefer them dead? Because this is the same group that is slaughtering each other by the hundreds.

The number of killings is not normal. If this happened in the massive city of London they would declare a state of emergency and I'm not speaking per capita. I'm saying if 100 murders were committed in London in 44 days they would declare a state of emergency. We have been in a state of abnormality so long that we accept it as normal.

It's not even remotely civilised what is happening here, and if we truly respect the lives of human beings we should expand and extend the state of emergency.

This should be the battle that destroys the gangs and the gang culture. This is three years before elections and two years before campaigning begins, so now is a very convenient time to make a stand against the gangs for the first time as a unified political alliance against killers.

We as the people and the politicians who represent us need to let them know that we as a unit are sick of them, sick of what they represent and ready to see them destroyed. This must be irrespective of the thug rule they command in constituencies.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness must care less about losing power and Dr Peter Phillips about seizing it. It must be about planting our foot firmly in the throats of these gangs and letting them know we will step on them. They must feel devoid of support with hearts full of fear, because if I have learnt one thing fighting them for two decades and studying them for three, it is that they only respond to fear.

The feeling is in the air. The gangs themselves realise the country is sick of them. The human rights groups have been exposed, the INDECOM Act has been clarified and very little of this was achieved by politics. It was rather achieved by the legal system and on the backs of victimised law enforcement officers.

It is time that politicians take this stand and do their part to destroy the monster their predecessors created. I am confident they will because, as I said the night before they took the decision: “It's only good men involved here.”

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