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JM | Dec 7, 2020

If this is where we’re going, the latest ‘Stop the killing’ ad should end Jamaica’s crime wave…

/ Our Today

Reading Time: 4 minutes
Minister of National Security, Dr Horace Chang. (Photo: Facebook MNSgovjm)

Sometimes, the best way to deal with a problem is to speak to the issues head-on, or so a Sunday (December 6) advertisement in the local newspaper featuring National Security Minister Dr Horace Chang would like many Jamaicans to believe.

The message was simple, “Stop the KILLING…Give up the Guns” and forms part of the ministry’s LivGudJamaica! campaign—if only it didn’t fall flat on its face, in delivery and audience.

There was (honestly) nothing outrightly spurious or inflammatory about the ad, but did that stop it from becoming the laughing stock of social media? A hard no, minister.

You see, the issue I and others are having is not so much the intention of the ad, but its realistic efficacy.

Who knew criminals were so amenable? Do you see that? Crime fighting in action! (Photo: Twitter @Stewpert)

Especially when we’re talking about crime, it’s not so hard to grasp why the ad fell short as criminals aren’t so bothered by government optics or following the rules. It’s inherently what makes them who they are, lawbreakers.

So forgive my cynical ways when I laugh (without abandon) as I open the Sunday Gleaner to see our government officials having effectively ended Jamaica’s murder problem with a well-edited ad. Wonderful stuff, lads!

It also reminds me of an equally ridiculous statement made by then-Security Minister Peter Bunting, who, faced with a surge in violent crimes more than seven years ago, said that “divine intervention” was needed to fix Jamaica’s spiralling murder rate.

Former National Security Minister Peter Bunting. (Photo: OPM.gov.jm)

Bunting, on the verge of tears that fateful April 2013 morning, postulated “The best efforts of the security forces by itself will not solve the crime problem in Jamaica, but it is going to take divine intervention, touching the hearts of a wide cross-section of the society”.

This is in no way minimising the mammoth task before the feet of the Jamaican security forces or diminishing the gains made to curb criminality throughout the island.

Reality check, of all of us…

I’m also very mindful of the fact that as a citizen, it’s easy to tear apart these initiatives and messages as nothing but asinine.

As I don my journalist cap, however, and look objectively at these two gaffes across bipartisan lines and successive governments, it does beg the question: ‘Where are we heading’?

Photo: Facebook @JamaicaConstabularyForce

Still, pontification aside, I can definitely see the government’s vision (or lack thereof). When these criminals, clearly regular readers of local media, read this ad, they should certainly be disheartened and endeavour to lead better lives.

Coming from the same government which has placed much of Jamaica’s crime hotspots under Zones of Special Operations (ZOSOs) or limited Public States of Emergency (SOEs)….what is the status of those measures now?

The ad is an insult to the nation’s collective intelligence; as if we citizens aren’t already aware that amid the mayhem of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, violent crimes, particularly murders, continue to plague the nation.

Overworked and under-resourced well before the COVID-19 pandemic, Jamaica’s police force is now tasked with enforcing curfews and maintaining order as well as tackling the crime monster. (Photo: Facebook @MNSgovjm)

As at the end of November, official police statistics indicate some 1,198 Jamaicans had their lives snuffed out since the start of the year.

And, when compared to 2019, the island is 16 deaths shy of last year’s grand total of 1,214 murders—we still have 24 days left to go.

And let’s not fool ourselves either, Jamaica’s crime problem has multiple streams of influence.

From the guns that flow into our ports from the US and Haiti to institutionalised, widespread corruption—the idea that an ad would put a dent in a systemic, more times political, problem is reckless at best, wishful at worst.

Photo: Facebook @JamaicaConstabularyForce

Let’s invest more in strengthening the intelligence capacity of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) since it’s clear much of the country is still choked on fear and apprehension to report crimes.

Perhaps, allocating this ad spend on additional resources for a constant review of the legislative arrangements which are intended to assist crime-fighting efforts, would be better value for money?


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