Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Ja: Help!

What we do know, however, is that Jamaica is in need of help. And that help is relatively easy to get.

We are not talking here about help in the big overarching sense, which those in charge will tell us is already in train.

We know of the foreign advisors working with local law enforcement agencies on programmes of institutional restructuring. We also know that there are information exchange programmes with foreign agencies. They manifest themselves, we are aware, in successful drug interdictions and the arrest of major figures in the narcotics trade.
We refer to help at the mundane operational level.

It is universal that the best deterrent to crime is to make crime expensive for the perpetrators. They have to be caught and punished.

But the probability of someone being caught and punished in Jamaica is pretty low.

Part of Jamaica's problem is that for the level of the crime there are too few police officers. There are insufficient bodies to deploy in areas where they would be a deterrent to criminal action.

Another problem is that there is a shortage of investigative and forensic skills, hence a heavy reliance on physical evidence, which may be unreliable. It will take a long time to build forensic and investigative capacity through training. And changing the culture of law enforcement apparatus from inside is a slow process.

But as we have said too many times, skills can be imported. Cheaply. It just requires a willingness to think creatively and be unburdened of whatever it is that may prevent us from going this route.

There are many retired technical persons in the United States and Europe with skills in forensic sciences who would perhaps not mind working in Jamaica for a year, or even six months. The same applies to top detectives or accountants and so on.

They would work alongside local police and in other agencies, transferring skills to Jamaicans.

If Dr Phillips and Mr Forbes and others have difficulty finding and recruiting such talent, they probably are looking in the wrong places. There are many agencies which specialise in matching such skills. Moreover, Jamaica has many foreign friends who would be willing to help.
The best way to make crime very expensive for perps is to have a death penalty that is swiftly implemented once sentence is handed down. Use all the forensics possible, and make the conviction as certain as possible. Once the death penalty is handed down, let the perp be executed within three days, no appeal. There is no 100% guarantee of anything outside of the context of Christian faith, but that is no reason not to execute perps. Let the Euros and Kofi Annan be damned. They are not the ones living in countries turned into crime ridden hell-holes.


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