St James mur­der rate would be higher if not for us – PMI head

Jamaica Gleaner - - SOCIAL SOMETHING EXTRA - Christo­pher Thomas Gleaner Writer

WESTERN BU­REAU: HE REVEREND Ever­ton Jack­son, the head of the Peace Man­age­ment Ini­tia­tive (PMI) in western Ja­maica, be­lieves that were it not for his or­gan­i­sa­tion’s con­flict res­o­lu­tion ef­forts in strife­torn com­mu­ni­ties in St James, the mur­der count would be much higher.

“The role of the PMI is to at­tempt to in­ter­vene in po­ten­tially ex­plo­sive cir­cum­stances with a view to de­fus­ing those sit­u­a­tions so as to avoid a flare-up that might lead to vi­o­lence and other crim­i­nal ac­tiv­i­ties,” said Jack­son. “We have been do­ing that, and in fact, if we were not do­ing that, the mur­der rate would have been much higher.”

St James has had 210 mur­ders since the start of this year, which is just two short of last year’s all-time record of 212, al­beit that there are still two full months to go in the year. In fact, the po­lice have long con­ceded that they ex­pect the record to fall be­fore the end of the year.

In speak­ing to the PMI’s role in pre­vent­ing vi­o­lent reprisals in the var­i­ous con­flicts that have been plagu­ing the parish, Jack­son said that a crit­i­cal part of his or­gan­i­sa­tion’s ef­forts to pre­vent reprisals is to work tire­lessly

TJACKSON

to ed­u­cate res­i­dents on the im­por­tance of seek­ing to find am­i­ca­ble so­lu­tions to their var­i­ous is­sues.

“We have about 18 per­sons who are placed in var­i­ous com­mu­ni­ties as ‘vi­o­lence in­ter­rupters’, wherein they would in­ter­face with per­sons who might be deemed as atrisk youth or per­sons who might have the po­ten­tial to cre­ate havoc or other vi­o­lent ac­tiv­i­ties in the com­mu­nity,” said Jack­son. “Of­ten­times, we have had to work around the clock to pre­vent reprisals.”

The much-re­spected pas­tor also noted that some­times, res­i­dents are more will­ing to trust and con­fide in PMI rep­re­sen­ta­tives than in the po­lice.

CRISIS OF TRUST

“It is a crisis of trust as it re­lates to the se­cu­rity forces, but there is a high level of trust as it re­lates to the PMI,” said Jack­son. “The trust level at PMI is much higher than the level [of trust] of the po­lice, and I think that augers well for us be­ing able to carry out our me­di­a­tion and for work­ing with per­sons.”

While he is fairly sat­is­fied that the PMI has been able to gain the trust of res­i­dents, Jack­son says he would like to see the po­lice on board as a trusted part­ner in the con­flict in­ter­ven­tion and crime-pre­ven­tion ef­forts be­ing pur­sued.

“There are some things that are left for the po­lice to do, so to get the guns off the street or to ar­rest per­sons, that is not our re­spon­si­bil­ity,” said Jack­son. “It has to be a col­lab­o­ra­tive ef­fort be­cause there are some things we can­not do be­cause we do not have the le­gal pow­ers to do it, and then there are some things that the po­lice are un­able to do be­cause they do not have the moral author­ity to do it or to get it done.”

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