The role of the citizen is far more important than that of government, police,
military, civil society groups and church.
The citizen is the witness, evidence giver, the credible piece of the puzzle. If
the citizen decides to see, hear and know no evil, it negates and diminishes the
ability of any system to prosecute and hold criminals responsible. Contrary to
long gone days of needing to walk into a police station to make a report,
information technology and access exist to share without fear. The ability to
know who, what, where, when and remain silent in every way is only a
guarantee the problem will increase.
There is no community in Jamaica where all criminals exist as ghosts. They are
known to young children and elders, pastors are aware. The security forces
know, but many methods to remove these criminals fall short for lack of
credible evidence, statements and witnesses. “Not my problem” lives alive and
well until it hits home and chants change to “we need the police to fix it”. How
can they function independent of citizens?
I’ve always said crime is migratory and criminals will move around to safer
haven if placed under pressure, but some believe criminals just merely leave
Kingston or Montego Bay and randomly arrive in another place to wreak havoc.
The most comfortable place to seek refuge is among family members and
friends. There are several places we always thought “quiet” and relatively free
from major crimes, but who is responsible for providing the route. It could be a
grandmother seeing her grandson reappear after years saying he needs a break
from X place because “nutten nah gwaan”. She innocently and naively gives
him space and solace. In a short space of time her rather empty house now has
his four friends from X place and they resume a life of crime.
How and why have so many communities not paid attention to the new influx of
“strange men”? When they are known to be creators of crime, why take the
view police should deal with it while suffering silently? In recent times a
troubled young man left one parish and given a home in another. The result saw
the murder of five people in one family. This is another example of how easy it
is to hear “you getting too hot here, a new environment will do you well”
The issue of crime is not as basic as people moving around all on their own.
For too long many of us have been complicit in criminal activities…mothers
who keep praying in church for their gunmen sons, families who accept ill-
gotten gains of the criminal member, with communities silently expecting to see
a miracle performed and gunmen disappearing.
In 2023, let’s all understand there is no reduction in crime from a society in
silence. The complicity and complacency you exercise today will confront you
or your family member callously one day and you’ll hope people speak up…if
you live to see it.