Jamaica government says tackling crime not only a matter for law enforcement

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KINGSTON, Jamaica, Tuesday September 30, 2014, CMC – The Jamaica government is calling on nationals to re-think their position that the solution to crime and violence is a matter only for law enforcement.

“Law enforcement has an important role to play, but if we think it is only law enforcement that is going to fix our crime problem, then we are seriously mistaken. The truth of the matter is…when you look at the root causes of crime, it starts with the family,” said National Security Minister, Peter Bunting, who said there needed to be a deepened understanding among Jamaicans of the causes of crime and violence affecting the island.

Bunting, addressing the launch of a Unite for Change forum and First Responders and Violence Interrupters training, said the understanding is needed in order to identify and put in place strategies aimed at fighting the scourge.

He said it is hoped that through the Unite for Change programme, the quest for a better understanding of the issues surrounding crime and violence will be achieved and a number of misconceptions will be removed from the thinking of Jamaicans.

“A part of the Unite for Change initiative is really working to deepen our understanding of the causes of violence, because if you don’t understand what is causing it…you will end up just treating the symptoms and not curing the disease.”

Bunting said one of the strategies being employed by his Ministry in curbing crime and violence is the use of “softer policing,” where members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) are dressed in a more civilian-friendly manner, instead of looking as if they are on a mission to confront.

“When we talk about changing culture, we recognize that the first place we have to start is with the Police. One of the things that we have started is changing the style of policing…going back to the red seam (uniform), rather than the blue denim,” he noted.

“Many of our communities only see policemen in blue denim with body armour and M-16 rifles travelling in these 4 by 4 pick-ups…looking like something you see in Iraq or Afghanistan. So, we are putting a lot more people back into the civilian style uniform…downplaying that paramilitary style of policing. We are putting more police into communities,” he added.

Meanwhile, Bunting has said that Portland is the safest parish in Jamaica with the lowest murder rate at 10 per 100,000 population. He said this was based on figures for the period January 1 to September 20 this year.

St. Thomas follows closely with 15 murders per 100,000; St. Elizabeth, 16; Manchester, 18; St. Ann, 21; St. Mary 26; Trelawny, 30; Westmoreland 34, and Clarendon, 35.

Bunting said the rates for parishes such as Portland, St. Thomas, St. Elizabeth and Manchester, fall well below the average rate for the Caribbean.

“So (if you’re) living in Manchester (for example) you’re not exposed to a higher average crime rate than if you lived in the rest of the Caribbean,” he said.

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