I went to the event with the hope of a stage 4 cancer patient going to a faith healer. My presence was driven more by obligation and catching up with the regulars who frequent our embassy occasions. Well after the greeting and grazing period, we settled into our seats readied for a pedestrian presentation. The lead off lecture on the history of human rights had the high level of intellectual content expected from Senator Golding. He clearly has a full grasp on the components of a viable justice system and have formulated a policy and deployment plan to modernize and upgrade the system, and provide needed leadership to consider the changing mores that are affecting the nation.
I was however hitching to hear the national security story as I view this as the major catalyst to fire all the engines of a prosperous Jamaica. The Honorable Peter Bunting was a new name to me, and his finance background only further stoke my skepticism. His opening statement of being the guy to do the dog and pony portion of the presentation did not provide any comfort to the growing doubting Thomas syndrome I was experiencing. If that was not enough, he peaked this syndrome by making the audacious statement of guiding Jamaica to a violence level similar to that of any developed country. I immediately scribbled my first question, led by a uppercase what followed by a pi series of exclamations! What global metric would be be using to deliver this miracle? I know his name is Peter, but walking on water only happened once?
Well, being the gracious guy that I am , I decided to humor him and allow the bouquet of his idea to develop. He must have been reading my mind as he provided a wide vista to frame this national security issue, and showed how embedded solving this issue was to our future viability. The economic frame was most compelling. Jamaica’s economic growth had taken a 3 – 10 times hit due to the lack of an solution to the violent crime albatross. He then proceeded to chronicle the investments we had made over the years and how these investments stacked up with other Caribbean and Latin American countries. The blood-stained number of murders/100K of population was the metric used to standardize the tragedy.
Like an orchestra maestro, he did not keep up lingering in the dark foreboding, but directed us to a transcending movement, filled with new unusual instruments that caused my heart to swell with a hallelujah ah ah!
I could hear a whole new set of sounds from these newly deployed tools – deeper leveraging of strategic partnerships, erasing artificial force boundaries, migrating the job description of the police from an adversarial force to a community service, engaging the entire community to own the issue , creatively countering the entertainment types who wrong-headedly glorify crime, deepening the deployment of intelligence through the use of data. Wow! This is certainly thrilling theory for the intellectual types, but show me the results.
Folks, there is good news! A seven (7%) reduction of all major crime stats was achieved in 2012, and this as accelerated to 20% year to date in 2013! The spirits of all in the room was lifted, as we burst into applause.
The Q & A segment followed, and folks were able to explore further their particular angst. The lottery scam and keeping in check the deportee criminal element dominated the discussion. The chief of police was stalwart in his assessment of the achievement.
The role the diaspora in this effort was soft-pedaled and handled with too quiet a politeness given the hope-filled breakthrough . Dr. Claire Nelson , our pioneering leader of the Institute of Caribbean Studies rose to her feet and brought the essence of the evening into sharp focus by challenging the audience not to miss this crucial opportunity. She had recently returned from a 10 week stay in Jamaica and was keenly aware of some of the on the ground initiatives that will need to support of the diaspora to sustain and accelerate the green shoots of hope. Our time, talent, and yes treasure will be needed to ensure that the promising possibility does not get strangled by lack of nutriments.
Can you imagine a security profile in 2017 of only 12 murders/100k down from the present lead leading 40/100k?
We maybe on the fence with the possibility of this solution, but let us remember that there is a huge cost to our skepticism. Folks, breakthrough can happen . This fledging new culture will need our nurturing.
Our engagement today will make the difference for the next 50 years!