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.
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.
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.
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.
Mike Beckles is a former Police Detective, businessman, freelance writer, a black achiever honoree, and publisher of the blog mikebeckles.com.
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