Loss Of Life Insignificant To Government, In So-called Modernization Process Of JCF

Looking back at the past is one of the best met­rics of mea­sure­ment for how far we have come, what we have accom­plished, what we can tweak or change, or whether we may even want to go back to some of the old strate­gies where the results may have been bet­ter than what we have at present.
Or we could change to say we are agents of change, even when the change we seek has result­ed in expo­nen­tial­ly more neg­a­tive con­se­quences when com­pared to the past.
With that said, I believe in chang­ing tac­tics; stand­ing still is stag­na­tion; it may even be char­ac­ter­ized as dor­man­cy, par­tic­u­lar­ly when we are deal­ing with con­tin­u­ing evolv­ing sit­u­a­tions like vio­lent crimes.

Whereas we have a his­tor­i­cal record of low­er crimes, all things con­sid­ered, it is fool­ish to dis­re­gard the data of that peri­od sim­ply because we want to make a point that we know bet­ter today, we want to set a dif­fer­ent stan­dard, even to the detri­ment of hun­dreds of peo­ple’s lives each year.
As a for­mer law enforce­ment offi­cer, I have all but giv­en up on the Jamaican crime sit­u­a­tion, because it seems to me that those in pow­er would rather show­case struc­tur­al changes that they have insti­tut­ed, rather than deal with the real-life con­se­quence of the loss of human life.
And so it seems that the Government’s insis­tence on what it terms ‘the mod­ern­iza­tion of the Constabulary,’ (exe­cut­ed by a sol­dier no less), is far more impor­tant than any cumu­la­tive loss of lives that may accrue dur­ing this sup­posed process.

It behooves all Jamaicans who would like a way out of the seem­ing­ly per­ma­nent mess of spi­ral­ing vio­lent mur­ders, to con­sid­er ways on their own to get out of the mess, since the Government is demon­stra­bly not inter­est­ed in doing any­thing about it.
One way to do so is to look to the past at the low­est lev­els of vio­lent crimes in our mod­ern his­to­ry, then eval­u­ate the atten­dant issues that may have impact­ed the data and see how we can for­mu­late strate­gies based on the pos­i­tives from that era.
How do we do that?
Glad you asked; before we get to that, it is impor­tant to rec­on­cile that the gov­ern­ment of Jamaica has main­tained a stub­born and arro­gant stance on the issue of vio­lent crime, refus­ing to accede to peo­ple with knowl­edge choos­ing to lis­ten to talk­ing heads from the University of the West Indies who read some­thing in a book then regur­gi­tate it.
That is where the gov­ern­ment for­mu­lates crime pol­i­cy, aid­ed by anti-police crim­i­nal-rights activists, and exe­cut­ed by a paper gen­er­al who has nev­er seen combat.
This arrange­ment is one of the great­est acts of decep­tion ever per­pe­trat­ed on the Jamaican people.

Let us see where we were in our recent past and how we man­aged to accom­plish the rel­a­tive­ly low­er numbers.


Year # of Murders
1970 152
1971 145
1972 170
1973 227
1974 195
1975 266
1976 367
1977 409
1978 381
1979 351
1980 899  ♦♦♦
1981 490 
1982 405
1983 424
1984 484
1986 449
1987 442
1988 414
1989 439
1990 543
1991 561
1992 629
1994 690
1995 780
1998 953
1999 849
2000 887
2002 1045 ×
2003 975
2004 1471
2005 1674
2006 1340
2007 1574
2008 1601
2009 1680
2010 1428 ♣
2011 1125
2012 1097
2013 1200
2014 1005
2015 1192
2016 1350 ♠

Let us begin with 1980, the peri­od dot­ted with three red dia­monds rep­re­sent­ed a crit­i­cal mass as it relates to polit­i­cal killings. We see that, but for 1977 where 409 mur­ders were report­ed to police, despite the tur­bu­lence, want, and short­ages in the coun­try, homi­cides were very low com­pared to where we are today.
After the 1980 elec­tions, mur­ders dropped pre­cip­i­tous­ly, cut by almost 50% but did not exact­ly go back to pre-1980 num­bers. Still, the num­bers remained con­sis­tent­ly low for eight (8) straight years, after which there was a sig­nif­i­cant jump in 1990 by more than 25 per­cent­age points.
Of even greater note was the sig­nif­i­cance and alacrity with which the mur­der num­bers took of after 1990 to the present day.
This data is crit­i­cal if we are to under­stand what exact­ly occurred at the point where we had the low­est num­bers after the dra­mat­ic rise in killings dur­ing the year 1980, why they dropped pre­cip­i­tous­ly and remained so for eight(8) years, then there­after took off like a rocketship?

So what was the sig­nif­i­cant sin­gle char­ac­ter­is­tic at play in the 8‑years dot­ted with a green tick?
Edward Seaga was elect­ed Prime Minister in 1980, and his par­ty remained in pow­er for those 8‑years. Let me has­ten to say that this analy­sis is not designed to make polit­i­cal points. Those who would read and ana­lyze it with blink­ered polit­i­cal lens­es, one way or anoth­er, may do so; please remem­ber your polit­i­cal deduc­tions are not mine.
Edward Seaga, the polit­i­cal leader, was far from per­fect. His polit­i­cal career is para­dox­i­cal, depend­ing on who is telling his story.
Seaga loved Jamaica; he under­stood that there could be no real eco­nom­ic growth in an envi­ron­ment of crim­i­nal­i­ty. Yet he cul­ti­vat­ed one of the most his­tor­i­cal gar­risons in our coun­try because his pride would not allow him to con­cede that the baby he cre­at­ed in trans­form­ing back-o-wall into what would lat­er become the thriv­ing mod­ern com­mu­ni­ty known as Tivoli gar­dens, in its struc­ture of Donmanship was anti­thet­i­cal to the rule of law and there­fore the effec­tive gov­er­nance of Jamaica.

Seaga’s sup­port­ers will argue that Tivoli gar­dens was a nec­es­sary evil to counter the PNP’s con­fla­gra­tion of gar­risons; I would counter that all things con­sid­ered, two wrongs do not make a right, but those are my per­son­al views.“Edward Seaga nur­tured Tivoli gar­dens as a par­ent his child, but he was not hes­i­tant about giv­ing to the police, the names of those he deemed to be out of [order] in the community.
Tivoli Gardens is a tiny slice of Jamaica; I would do a dis­ser­vice to the facts if I made the case, that by con­trol­ling crime in that enclave, you effec­tive­ly con­trol crime across the length and breadth of Jamaica.
So we must exam­ine the oth­er fac­tors that went into the mas­sive reduc­tion in mur­ders rel­a­tive to 1980 and when Seaga won the elec­tion and the peri­od after the PNP’s Michael Manley beat him in the 1989 General elections.

During Seaga’s stew­ard­ship„ many Jamaican crim­i­nals fled to oth­er coun­tries, by uti­liz­ing uncon­ven­tion­al means. Some went to Cuba; we lat­er learned, then moved on to Canada. Michael Manley cul­ti­vat­ed warm rela­tions with Pierre Trudeau of Canada and Fidel Castro of Cuba; thus, there were chan­nels open for them to exploit.
Others found ways into Britain and the United States.
The results of that peri­od of exo­dus are well known; Jamaican crim­i­nals took with them a kind of ruth­less­ness that forced leg­is­la­tures in those host coun­tries to adopt [dra­con­ian] mea­sures which ensnared and incar­cer­at­ed thousands.
After serv­ing lengthy prison sen­tences due to those mea­sures, the sig­nif­i­cant upward bound in homi­cides in the year, 2002 may very well reflect when those crim­i­nals were start­ing to be released from pris­ons and deport­ed to Jamaica.
That is not to say that depor­tees are direct­ly respon­si­ble for the mur­der­ous onslaught. Still, it is fair to assert that they brought back with them a lev­el of cal­lous­ness and sophis­ti­ca­tion Jamaicans nev­er knew before.

The Jamaica they returned to was not a Jamaica hos­tile to vio­lence-pro­duc­ers. There was an admin­is­tra­tion in pow­er that said quote; (‘any­thing a any­thing’).sic.
That col­lo­qui­al ter­mi­nol­o­gy was a wink and a nod to the crim­i­nals to do as they please. They also returned to a police depart­ment immersed from top to bot­tom in cor­rup­tion, a soci­ety cul­tur­al­ly social­ized into cor­rup­tion, and a jus­tice sys­tem inef­fec­tu­al to the req­ui­site task.
A change of Government in 2010 saw a dra­mat­ic reduc­tion in mur­ders from the pre­ced­ing three years, and a fur­ther reduc­tion for a few years there­after, up to 2016 when the num­bers went beserk again.
The log­i­cal deduc­tion from this the­sis is that itis rea­son­able to say that crime has thrived in Jamaica when the coun­try’s lead­er­ship has been most acqui­es­cent with its growth.
The coun­try has not had the lead­er­ship of the type of Seaga on this issue under either polit­i­cal par­ty, even though there has been a dip under the abbre­vi­at­ed Bruce Golding Administration.

The cur­rent lead­er­ship of Andrew Holness on [this] issue may be char­ac­ter­ized as rid­dled with arro­gance, igno­rance, spite, and a will­ing­ness to enact struc­tur­al changes in the Constabulary to the per­il of hun­dreds of Jamaicans each year.
In the end, Andrew Holness, Horace Chang, and Antony Anderson may get their wish to restruc­ture the JCF, just so that they may have brag­ging rights for the sake of change.
That changes will be a pyrrhic vic­to­ry as (a) the changes are already prov­ing to be at the expense of an effec­tive police depart­ment & (b) by the time those changes take effect, there may not be any­one left alive.
This Prime Minister has demon­strat­ed that he is a dis­re­spect­ful anti-police antag­o­nist, one who has caused a mas­sive attri­tion of com­pe­tent peo­ple from the depart­ment. Some of the peo­ple who have left the depart­ment haven’t even left the coun­try. That is a clear indi­ca­tion that they are fed up with him and what he has meant to the pro­fes­sion they love.
After con­tribut­ing to the con­tin­ued destruc­tion of the JCF, he engages in talk­ing points in which he argues that the crime sit­u­a­tion is out­side the abil­i­ties of the JCF to handle.
No buster’, you ham­strung the police with your words and deeds, then com­plain that the crime sit­u­a­tion is out of their abil­i­ties to control.
It is the equiv­a­lent of set­ting the house on fire then com­plain­ing about the fire­men’s inabil­i­ty to put out the blaze.
The JCF has nev­er been unable to cope; what the depart­ment needs are res­olute lead­er­ship, some­thing Andrew Holness should take a reme­di­al class in understanding.




Mike Beckles is a for­mer Police Detective, busi­ness­man, free­lance writer, black achiev­er hon­oree, and cre­ator of the blog mike​beck​les​.com.