Editorial

Mixed signals

Wednesday, July 03, 2019

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There is no doubt that Jamaica has not had any sustained success in the battle against the two-headed monster of crime and violence. And, admittedly, the fight coming from our police corps has not always been valiant. But the series of administrative news coming from the constabulary's Corporate Communications Unit has done nothing to bolster confidence that things are truly improving.

First, came word that violent crime, in particular murder, had soared past all gains made from the 2018 zones of special operations (ZOSOs) and states of public emergency (SOEs) initiatives.

Then, the nation heard that the constabulary had promoted some 19 to the rank of deputy superintendent.

And, in yesterday's edition of the Jamaica Observer, the banner headline was 'Police shake-up', in reference to the announcement about sweeping reassignments of mostly senior officers among varying police divisions and units.

The messages from the commander seem incongruous.

Civilians usually interpret the attainment of rank and promotion to be the result of good performance and some degree of achievement, but the crime numbers being reported show an almost all-island loss of ground to the violence-producers and therefore have no bearing on the promoted individuals being champions in their previous assignments.

As well, the officers being reassigned themselves have not all achieved positive impact on the crime statistics, and so it cannot be assumed that they now will be carrying burnished skill sets and competencies to their new areas of appointment. It simply seems an episode of trading spaces or musical chairs.

The crime-fight cannot be reduced to shakes of the dice and shuffles of the deck.

Now we in this space understand all too well that any tactician worth their salt must set the field. And history is replete with instances in which strategy has won the day over sheer numbers and artillery — the Maroons tell their own vivid story. But the moves by the top cop — some 16 months in the job — do not yet seem to be taking a discernible shape.

Now is certainly not the time for heads to roll, and we in this space make no call for a change in command, but it must not be lost on the police commissioner that crime in Jamaica is not an area in which the people are prepared to adopt a “wait and see” stance.

We, therefore, encourage Major General Antony Anderson, as he sets the pieces on the ground, to be conscious that, while he has constant dialogue with the Government, the people of the nation fill out the slots of his report card.

In the absence of a comprehensive crime plan, or even a road map, each act will be evaluated for its impact on the crime-fight.

No one expects a turnaround of circumstances in one fell swoop, but the nation is on tenterhooks awaiting news of a reduction in the crime statistics, and news of the complete opposite only serve to assault the confidence that had been collectively bestowed upon the force when new leadership was installed.

Heavy is the head that wears the crown, Police Commissioner, but even as the crime figures tell the story of a battle not being won, failure in not an option.


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