Crime Drives Poverty, Not Necessarily The Other Way Around…

Police Commissioner Antony Anderson’s meet­ing with enter­tain­ers and indus­try mem­bers is com­mend­able, even though con­tin­u­al edu­ca­tion­al out­reach has been, and still is long over­due. Nevertheless, bet­ter late than never.
It can­not be overem­pha­sized that crime has some of its roots anchored in a lack of edu­ca­tion. Therefore, the police must con­tin­ue to reach out to the larg­er pop­u­la­tion in its mis­sion to low­er crime, and explain the cost of non-sup­port for their efforts to keep the coun­try safe. This is par­tic­u­lar­ly impor­tant because there is no mean­ing­ful gov­ern­ment edu­ca­tion strat­e­gy aimed at ulti­mate­ly reduc­ing vio­lent crimes.

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The fight against vio­lent crime must be waged with a mul­ti-pronged approach. It must include enforce­ment through intel­li­gence-dri­ven, strate­gic tar­get­ing of crime pro­duc­ers. It must include decap­i­tat­ing crim­i­nal gangs with sur­gi­cal precision.
To get there, the police must also focus on exe­cut­ing the same lev­el of strate­gic tar­get­ing of influ­en­tial mem­bers of inner-city com­mu­ni­ties to bring them into the fold.
For too long, under­served inner-city com­mu­ni­ties have been incu­ba­tors for vio­lence pro­duc­ers; this must come to an end. Policing can­not be all about big guns and raids; inte­gral to crime reduc­tion is the need to have con­fi­dants with­in all com­mu­ni­ties. Even as Jamaica edges ever so slow­ly away from tra­di­tion­al modes of polic­ing and for­mer meth­ods of crime-solv­ing, the need for com­mu­ni­ty engage­ment is invalu­able to the ulti­mate goal of crime reduction.

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Anderson’s meet­ing must be seen as an indi­ca­tion that he has now real­ized that enter­tain­ers are huge­ly respon­si­ble for shap­ing pop­u­lar cul­ture. As such, get­ting them to act respon­si­bly with their cre­ative-con­tent is cru­cial to reori­ent­ing the next gen­er­a­tion of would-be gang mem­bers and leaders.
Many enter­tain­ers are mind­ful that crime is not nec­es­sar­i­ly a by-prod­uct of pover­ty, as the coun­try’s so-called intel­li­gentsia has sought to con­vince us for decades.
According to a local report­ing from inside the meet­ing, the vibrant dis­cus­sion got in/​tense when vet­er­an enter­tain­ment con­sul­tant Clyde McKenzie sug­gest­ed a strong cor­re­la­tion between crime and poverty.
However, Agent Sasco quick­ly debunked that the­o­ry by point­ing out that “there is a ten­den­cy to mar­ry vio­lence and pover­ty; that’s not true.” He instead indi­cat­ed that the gen­e­sis of vio­lence goes beyond poverty.

Members of the group that met with Commissioner of Police Antony Anderson.

I am glad that some­one had the char­ac­ter to debunk that myth; over the years, I have con­sis­tent­ly point­ed out that there are coun­tries with greater pover­ty than Jamaica, that have expo­nen­tial­ly less crime than Jamaica does.
Data shows in real dol­lars and cents, how crime dri­ves Jamaicans deep­er and deep­er into pover­ty year over year. Not pover­ty dri­ving crime as some would have you believe, but crime dri­ving poverty.
In 2013 Professor Anthony Clayton of the University of the West Indies, in a report pre­pared for the Ministry of National Security, called [A New Approach National Security Policy for Jamaica]; said, for exam­ple, that the direct med­ical cost of injuries due to inter­per­son­al vio­lence account­ed for near­ly 12% of Jamaica’s total health expen­di­ture in 2006, while pro­duc­tiv­i­ty loss­es due to inter­per­son­al vio­lence-relat­ed injuries account­ed for approx­i­mate­ly 4% of Jamaica’s GDP. If the lat­ter is added to the esti­mate of secu­ri­ty costs, then the com­bined total is 7.1% of Jamaica’s GDP.”
Commissioner Anderson’s approach may be a hail mary, con­sid­er­ing the crime sta­tis­tics fac­ing the coun­try. Nevertheless, the coun­try must sup­port his ini­tia­tive to engage all sec­tors in this fight to return san­i­ty to a coun­try that uses vio­lence and threats of vio­lence as its only con­flict res­o­lu­tion tool.

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Mike Beckles is a for­mer Police Detective, busi­ness­man, free­lance writer, a black achiev­er hon­oree, and pub­lish­er of the blog mike​beck​les​.com. 
He’s con­tributed to sev­er­al websites.
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