By Andrew Clunis
Jamaicans have become so used to the platitudes and rhetoric that spew from politicians in the immediate aftermath of a high-profiled murder that they have been rendered valueless.
The words, “brutal”, “condemnation”, “senseless” and the phrase “leaving no stone unturned” are now absolutely meaningless. When spoken by politicians, they fall on the stony ground of a detached population who have become immune and weary of the bloodletting, that has become the common defining feature of today’s Jamaica.
Tributes and condemnation have been pouring in since Thursday afternoon’s gun murder of young pastor James Johnson inside a church at Old Harbour Road in St. Catherine. It has left many asking the rhetorical question, “When and how did we come to this?” But those who choose that line of enquiry are either being emotionally hypocritical or they have been living in a fool’s paradise.
This has been a long time coming. People who have access to guns and have bad intentions will use them anywhere. They have been using them in people’s homes, schools, in the streets and the church is no different. Just as they don’t see God when they pump bullets into four-year-old babies inside their homes, they don’t see or fear God when they pump bullets into a young pastor inside what should have been his sanctuary. So there we have it: so much for divine intervention!
Those responsible for the security apparatus of the country need to stop with the ridiculous rhetoric and start finding more innovative ways to bring criminality, particularly gun crimes under control. Other countries have done it and we too should demonstrate the will and find the resources to do so.
At the end of the day, for all the economic gains that the Andrew Holness led government is making with increases in the net international reserves etc., they mean nothing if the people who such achievements are meant to benefit, have to be living and cowering in fear every single day of their lives.
Rather than having all this money tucked up in the Bank of Jamaica to make us look good on the credit scale, use some of it to build out a security apparatus which will repair the severely damaged confidence of the Jamaican people, in the ability of the Jamaican state to guarantee them protection of their lives and property.
Rather than having billions forcibly taken from hard working people sitting down in the NHT, use some of it for the same purpose.
Form a covenant with the Jamaican people to say, forego one year’s contribution refunds from the NHT and use those funds to invest in the technological capabilities of the security forces so that their jobs may be made easier and they can operate more efficiently.
The country needs a massive, radical investment in the Jamaica Eye programme. After that gunman shot pastor Johnson, where did he go when he left the church? Was he on foot; was he on a motorbike or in a car…if yes, what colour? Did he turn left, or right on Old Harbour Road? Was he acting alone? These are all questions that Jamaica Eye could readily answer for the detectives, giving them a head start rather than asking them to look for a needle in a haystack
All buildings that are used by the public, whether publicly or privately owned, should be fitted with closed circuit TV systems. In this high crime environment, that is just common sense. These systems are relatively cheap to install and operate. Government must find the resources to establish a better incentive driven public/private partnership that will be a total game changer in the effort to make Jamaica a safer place.
On another note, we would wish it were not so, but it is now very obvious that there are serial killers and murderers for hire operating all across Jamaica. Murder is very big and organised enterprise and our intelligence capacity is not able to deal effectively with the main actors and principals. We should not be afraid to ask for international help in aggressively addressing this issue because people with bad intentions and lots of money have a ready recruitment base in our schools and a life of criminality is increasingly becoming an attractive career option for many young people.
Too often are we seeing organised killings, including those of Brandon Murray, the Ramdials and a young bartender on Red Hills Road where two men rode up, walked into the bar, pumped bullets into her in the presence of patrons and casually walked out, leaving everyone else unscathed. Seems they were just at work, doing their “jobs”.
These people live somewhere, they have friends and family; someone must know what they are doing to earn a living and how they survive. But the Jamaican state doesn’t seem to have the capacity at the moment to tackle such complex matters.
The Prime Minister announced that he is looking to Israel for partnerships in areas of security and this should be the priority. It takes a certain steeliness and guts to become an assassin and such persons are few; they should not be hard to find on a small island if you have the right expertise and apply the proper techniques. This one is beyond the JCF and we should bring in the Israelis, the Americans, the Canadians, the British and whoever else will help us because Jamaica can only bleed so much blood.
Failure to act now will mean only a matter of time before the country pays the ultimate price by entering an abyss from which it may never return.