Letters to the Editor

More ZOSOs and SOEs if and only if...

Thursday, September 20, 2018

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Dear Editor,

Prime Minister Andrew Holness is shouting out, in a frantic voice, “We must stick with the states of emergency(SOEs) and zones of special operation (ZOSOs).”

“Murder is down 20 per cent. Divide the forces equally across the parishes and you would not get that result,” he argues.

Your argument is valid, Prime Minister, if and only if you did nothing else and if the forces are divided equally across parishes.

But the point is that there is something else that can be done alongside security force repression; and equal division between parishes is a straw man that nobody is proposing.

You have spoken of the something else, called social intervention, with fine words, but not with substance. It is the kind that is directed at key elements in the murder-making process, namely at poor communities and at the really high-risk young men and women. ”At-risk ”and “unattached” are words now thrown around at many young folk who, although in need, are not the ones referred to here.)

Here is an analogy, a parallel, to the problem. Sea levels are rising and eroding beach and property. So we build a sea wall and for a while we stop the beach erosion. But, of course, sea levels continue to rise because that is the effect of global warming. To stop that we must replace fossil fuels — coal and oil — with renewable sources — wind, sun and flowing water.

Like sea wall and beach erosion, an SOE will choke off murders for a time. But it will leave untouched the community and youth springs from which the violence is gushing. The solution lies in a combination of sufficient security force repression and serious social intervention.

Also, good sense dictates that the security forces be distributed not equally, but sensibly. It is stupid to ignore the budding rates in St Thomas, Portland and St Mary — that is how Westmoreland began, until scamming spread there from St James. The 'quiet' parishes are not walled off from trouble spots elsewhere.

The Peace Management Initiative is being deprived of resources to deal with Rockfort, Waterhouse, Red Hills Road and other bubbling hotspots.

Above all, stop thinking that more police and soldiers will end the murder spiral and put the high numbers into reverse gear. Successive administrations have been trying this for 50 years and it has failed. Isn't that staring you, Prime Minister, in the face? Do something real, substantial and different about the deprived communities and the youth gasping for the opportunity to live the decent life that better off folks enjoy. Give them an army of social workers and violence interrupters. Put some money into it!

And, Dr Phillips, haven't you had ample time to think up an alternative?

Horace Levy


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