Crime in Jamaica – The Influence of the Politicians and Police
Jamaica’s crime problem is exacerbated by the influence of politicians and a police force which has a significant number of corrupt policemen.
Politicians have from the outset created crimes by default. The creation of Tivoli Gradens, Wilton Gardens, Tawes Pen, Central Village, Payne Avenue and Arnett Gardens were deliberate housing stock created to get loyalty from those who are residents. Loyalty was to be demonstrated by voluntary voting and coerced voting during general elections. Working in Spanish Town I have seen it for myself where thuggish activists behaved like town criers. They would wake decent folks to go out and vote oftentimes threatening them if they failed to mark their x for the politicians who provided housing units.
The housing units of the garrisons aforementioned became the cradles for all sorts of anti social behaviour and criminal activities. They became bases by 1982 for major drug enterprises (and I do not mean marijuana).
Those who fought the 1980 near civil war with guns provided by funds to politicians from lobby groups and countries sympathetic to right wing and left wing politics fuelled the armouries which later wreaked havoc in the 1990’s turf war for cocaine trade in the inner cities. How then can politicians convince Jamaicans they are innocent of the crimes being committed in Jamaica. There is an overriding relationship between politicians and many of the masses which Professor Carl Stone called “Clientilism”. Analysing Stone’s work translated to nothing more than “I support you, but I expect you to do everything to keep me in power”
One may ask , “why do politicians support criminality?”. The answer is simple and here one has to turn to his spirituality, one has to understand human nature and stop being an agnostic or atheist. Man’s heart is evil, mankind is depraved. Politicians are not softer or milder examples of mankind in fact they are the opposite. They seek more income, more wealth, more real estate, more social and financial capital and they seek more connections with those who can materially benefit them and their families. Nothing has changed since independence.
Politicians will therefore contribute to any act that contravenes the law as long as it benefits them and those involved in criminality who allow their continued power to be supported . We have heard anecdotes of ganja men being arrested, being caught red handed in shipments of marijuana abroad and MP’s coming to police station to bail them. We have heard of cocaine addicts shooting up upscale communities and telephone calls coming into the police station to the “Supe” to lay hands off him. Some politicians are even lawyers using their legal skills and acumen to help those who wreak havoc on our society.
This is not comedy, just ask senior cops who manned the streets in the 1980’s and 90’s. They could provide enough information to write a book and they will quite likely mention politicians who tried to bribe them or prevent them for taking action. Why do you believe it took years to extradite some criminals- they were protected by politicians and were untouchable until the US authorities exerted pressure.
One area of support for criminality is the business of public construction. Road works, road construction and school building are major sources of kickbacks for politicians. It is no different from mafia activities. Many contractors are politically associated. They get the contracts for public works and a percentage is given back to the Member of Parliament or Cabinet Minister. This is not unique to Jamaica though, as it is a feature of most societies in the developing world. It is there in Africa especially Nigeria and it pervades Asian and Pacific countries.
It is an illegal relationship and practice but it continues and when other parties are shut out of this beneficial relationship – occasionally blood is drawn. In 1972 Michael Manley’s first duty was to ask the authorities to search for missing funds under the previous Parliamentary Secretary earmarked for building primary schools in central Jamaica.
The Parliamentary Secretary Arthur Williams Snr (now deceased) could not account for government funds that were to build a number of schools in central Jamaica. As usual nothing came out of the case, it became a nine day wonder. I cannot foresee the situation improving at this time. Only the saving grace of God can speak to our leaders’ hearts and tell them to stop supporting activities and individuals who violate the nation’s laws.
Our island has a number of issues which continue to hamper development and I refer to the issue of squatting. People have lost their moral values with regard to the rights of others. Property rights have been breached by some of our citizens who believe that they have a right to cling on private property.
One major community near Keystone, St. Catherine is occupied by over 100 families who have no intention of leaving the owner’s land and who have built huge concrete structures on what does not belong to them.
Since the 1970’s, our police force has seen political interference by the politicians of the day. As men without integrity and men who fear politicians instead of serving the people, they have become solidly backed by a PNP Member of Parliament. But last year we heard of the Red Hills Road real estate in which a prominent JLP politician supported the same illegal occupation. Land owners in Jamaica have no rights as squatters supported by politicians for vote rule the roost.
The police motto makes a mockery of justice. Policemen have become agents for drug lords, extortionists, murderers and those bent on destroying the fabric of our society. Policemen in Jamaica have become agents to carry out the dirty work for politicians such as protecting ghetto enforcers, trafficking guns, and acting as political muscle. Criminals get their ammunition from some policemen and drug smugglers and traffickers have many policemen on their payroll.
Nothing has changed from early post independence. In the 1970’s some of the largest houses in upscale neighbourhoods in Discovery Bay and Runaway Bay were owned by policemen. It was a policeman’s joy was to to serve in communities in St.Ann. Statistics showed that in St.Ann at the rank and file, police were deeply involved in the ganja trade. They protected farmlands and the shipment and air cargo of ganja grown by small farmers in the hills of the Dry Harbour Mountains such as Murray Mountains, Aboukir Woods, McKenzie, Calderwood and Nine Miles.
Today, there is a police presence in the drug trade, extortion and even scamming activities. Police in Jamaica are notorious for protecting drug dons. Many police in the island are on the payroll for drug dons. It reminds me of the police in Chicago in the days of the notorious criminal and mafia figure Al Capone. They protected each other (called the squaddie effect) so it eventually becomes quite difficult to arrest them as policemen are protective of each other.
The police force has taken steps over the last few years to remove wrongdoers masquerading as police. However, it is not enough as only the extreme cases and those impinging on embarrassment are addressed while the majority of breaches and violations of the law are ignored.
There have been numerous instances where police intervened in domestic issues resulting in several persons losing their lives because the officers opted to use their fire power instead of their brains to resolve issues.
An entire book could be written on the involvement in crime of the political class and those who are trained to protect and serve. Unfortunately, our country is sinking deeper in crime not only by criminals, but by the part played by corrupt policemen and politicians who are untouchable.
By Maurice Christie
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