What­ever it takes

Jamaica Gleaner - - @ISSUE -

WE HAVE re­turned to the topic of crime and vi­o­lence partly in re­ac­tion to the news out of the na­tion’s Par­lia­ment that the use of drone air­craft as a crime-fight­ing tool has been stalled. Safety is a crit­i­cal com­po­nent of a vi­brant na­tion, and cur­rently, the crime sit­u­a­tion in Kingston, Mon­tego Bay and else­where in the coun­try is be­ing de­scribed by many as dire.

To en­sure pub­lic safety and save the coun­try from an­ar­chy, the Govern­ment must find the re­sources to em­ploy var­i­ous tech­nolo­gies and ac­cess avail­able crim­i­nal-jus­tice tools in the fight against crime. It can­not be busi­ness as usual.

What­ever laws that must be en­acted and/or amended, now is the time to tackle them, Govern­ment and Op­po­si­tion, in step. For ex­am­ple, do our firearm-re­lated laws re­quire strength­en­ing to se­verely mete out the ap­pro­pri­ate pun­ish­ment to users and im­porters of these weapons?

And how is it that the po­lice have never been able to ar­rest sig­nif­i­cant ex­porters of firearms and am­mu­ni­tion? What can be done to shut down the im­porters of these in­stru­ments of death?


On the mat­ter of us­ing so­cial me­dia to solve crime, it was done ef­fec­tively in one re­cent mem­o­rable case where cell phone mes­sages were re­trieved and played back for the jury. How­ever, should the po­lice be do­ing more of this type of in­ves­ti­ga­tion and mon­i­tor­ing to con­nect the dots be­tween crim­i­nals and the per­sons with whom they com­mu­ni­cate on so­cial web­sites? Cell phones re­tain a his­tory of brows­ing habits, calls made, mes­sages sent, and other key in­for­ma­tion. Mod­ern po­lice forces are chang­ing with the times and are train­ing and equip­ping po­lice per­son­nel with smart­phones, other elec­tronic de­vices, and the req­ui­site soft­ware as part of their crime-fight­ing tool­kit.

Take the mat­ter of DNA ev­i­dence leg­is­la­tion that was ap­proved by Par­lia­ment in 2011. It was an­nounced two years ago that the Foren­sic Lab­o­ra­tory and the Le­gal Medicine Unit were to be­come the In­sti­tute of Foren­sic Sci­ence as a mea­sure to re­duce crime and cor­rup­tion and boost the in­ves­tiga­tive ca­pa­bil­ity of lawen­force­ment agents. How much is that in­sti­tute help­ing in iden­ti­fy­ing crim­i­nals? Are law-en­force­ment per­son­nel mak­ing the best use of this tech­nol­ogy to solve crime? Is there gen­eral sat­is­fac­tion with the speed with which test­ing is done?

The an­swers to these ques­tions can help de­ter­mine whether op­ti­mal use is be­ing made of this in­sti­tute, which has been the re­cip­i­ent of high-tech do­na­tions.

Big-city po­lice forces are keep­ing step with tech­nol­ogy from the drones in the sky to robot cam­eras as they try to beat the crim­i­nals at ev­ery turn. And even if they are not suc­cess­ful in pre­vent­ing crime, they usu­ally solve cases quite speed­ily with the aid of tech­nol­ogy.


And in prepar­ing for court, po­lice per­son­nel can use so­phis­ti­cated, cut­ting-edge tech­nol­ogy to col­lect ev­i­dence and map out crime scenes and recre­ate sce­nar­ios so they can be pre­sented to a jury, even if the case takes years to be tried.

Those who have the na­tion’s se­cu­rity in their hands must sense the frus­tra­tion and de­spair among peo­ple. Par­ents whose chil­dren are be­ing killed for a cell phone and rel­a­tives of se­niors who are be­ing slaugh­tered are call­ing for jus­tice and safer neigh­bour­hoods. How many more will die at the hands of ma­raud­ing crim­i­nals to­mor­row or the day af­ter?

An alarm­ing num­ber of our chil­dren are be­ing ex­posed to un­prece­dented sav­agery in their homes, neigh­bour­hoods, schools, and on the streets. Whether they be vic­tims or wit­nesses, such en­coun­ters are likely to be trau­matic for them and may scar their young lives. This daily bom­bard­ment and ex­po­sure to vi­o­lence is as­so­ci­ated with many neg­a­tives such as de­pres­sion, vengeance, low per­for­mance, and sub­stance abuse.

We are ap­peal­ing to the pow­ers that be to make bold de­ci­sions and find the re­sources to em­ploy ap­pro­pri­ate 21stCen­tury tech­nolo­gies to fight crime.

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