Teenage

Crime fight needs a real plan

Franklin
Johnson

Friday, July 19, 2019

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In the past 40 years we have spent more resources trying to control crime, specifically murders, than growing food — and we have failed at the latter, thanks to thieves!

People migrate when they lose friends, family, or become fearful. We question whether to start business and risk life. Do we expand — new offices, employ more — and risk extortion or death? Many build careers or businesses but cannot enjoy the fruits of their labour. No Cabinet or commissioner of police has tamed the murder monster in 57 years, so why bother?

Peeps say when the white man was in charge we slept with windows open. Now we are even solicitous of kids, as once an adult meant safety, but not now.

Criminals are in charge as police cannot catch them, or do not make good cases, so they go free at court. As a result, many long for a death squad to make up for police ineptitude. Sad, but true!

The nation has asked Cabinet for a crime plan. We have the states of emergency — a colonial tactic, effective in short bursts, but not extended periods. The zones of special operations have impact, but is a drip to the 400,000-plus needing welfare.

The “Commish's Seven-Point Crime Plan” ( The Gleaner, July 7, 2019) is an insult to our intelligence. We had fine words for decades, yet crime circumscribes lives and our pursuit of the prosperity agenda. This plan has “heavy emphasis on intelligence, forensics, cybersecurity and anti-corruption, which brings together the best minds” ( Gleaner op cit). Sir, who are these? Consider the police cyber-savvy in a smartphone snatch case from uptown joggers days ago. In the quiet dawn the phone was tracked by owners in the presence of uptown police for an hour all the way to the Hanover Street, Water Lane area. Were the miscreants arrested? No! What is the jurisdiction problem? What shift-change problem? Cybersecurity ABC was thwarted by police failings! Does this build trust?

We do not have the benefit of the full plan, nor should we, but check the seven points. We believe: points one and two (crime reduction and control and improving public safety and citizen security) are the job of police in every country. Do they specifically address our murder epidemic?

Then point three (organisational restructuring and capacity building) is what all firms do to ensure they are “fit for purpose”. Points four (enhancing staff welfare) and five (enhancing professional standards) say the police service plans to take care of its employees and hold them to account, as do all employers.

Then point six (efficiency through technology) is a shiny item. Just say “technology” and we get hyper and feel better. Does it have substance? At a recent small business conference, technology was the rage. Then point seven (communication and public engagement) is what we in Jamaica call “common assault”. So what is there that could not be said publicly last month or last year?

Compare the 'City of London Policing Plan 2017-2020'. Google it! This is the smallest of the 45 police forces serving 70 million in the UK, and all work seamlessly. So when Papine police say downtown is not their jurisdiction we tie our own hands. The city is a square mile of London, the epicentre of global financial energy, handling hundreds of billions and employing about a million people. It has normal crime, but its forte is financial crime and corruption. The plan details values, corporate issues, and is transparent, so we can judge results. It has eight priorities for 2019-20 viz — counter-terrorism, cybercrime, fraud, vulnerable people, road policing, public order, violent and acquisitive crime, and antisocial behaviour. In each they spell out actions and a dozen deliverables.

Be honest! We've live with murder, rape, and fear for decades. And, despite states of emergency in the west and in Kingston, national murder stats are bad. We had murders near a checkpoint, so miscreants are not trembling in their shoes. We see no messiah or innovative crime-fighting on the horizon, so what can we do?

Let's reprise some public ideas. First, given lack of capacity (point 3), the commish must train each community for self-defence. Why? We are being killed, not him! Then form five discrete police forces — Metro Kingston, Cornwall, Middlesex, Metro MoBay, Surrey (points one and two) to drill down locally. Then, recruit a cadre of volunteers (points four and five), train them on weekends to add the full-time equivalent of, say, 3,000 to the force. This concept is not new, but we think in silos. Finally, we need an amnesty for legal guns. The number of “ded lef” guns wrapped in chenille bedspreads, bottom drawers, or old, infirm permit holders must be called in by the Firearm Licensing Authority. But, be gentle, as many widows are scared.

Prime Minister, we need an innovative crime plan we can trust! Stay conscious!

Franklin Johnston, D Phil (Oxon), is a strategist and project manager; Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (UK); and lectures in logistics and supply chain management at Mona School of Business and Management, The University of the West Indies. Send comments to the Observer or franklinjohnstontoo@gmail.com


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