New Regional Security Centre must Deal with Gang Problem – Professor Griffith


American Professor Ivelaw Griffith has said problem of gangs in the region must be given focus in the short term, at the just established Centre for National Security and Strategic Studies.
“The issue of gangs is an area that is under-studied in the social sciences in the region and we are not talking simply about gangs in the Jamaican context.
The Caribbean gang problem is a significant problem in Haiti and the Dominican Republic,” said Professor Griffith, as he addressed the launch of the facility yesterday (May 31) on the Mona campus of the University of the West Indies.
“As the centre pursues its region-wide mandate, looking at the issue of gangs beyond, but including Jamaica, will be a worthy area of investigation. This will allow for engagement of both the academic arena and the policy arena to bear lots of good fruit,” he added.
The Professor, who is Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs at York College, noted that the contribution of the centre to the Caribbean region should be policy-relevant.
“Policy relevance in my mind suggests the importance of the centre being abreast of the issues of the day. The centre needs to have short, succinct policy papers that respond to the issues of the day that an assistant police commissioner or a Minister can get some value in,” he stated.
The regional centre will conduct relevant research into security strategy and criminology to provide solutions to the security problems confronting the Caribbean region.
“It will serve to illuminate these problems (security). It will seek to educate and prepare scholars in strategy and national security for positions of senior level in management of security forces in the region,” explained Principal Director of the Jamaica Constabulary Force’s Staff College, Senior Superintendent Dormah Harrison. He noted that the facility will focus on research, publication, conference and academic studies.
“The major (focus) will include regional and national security strategy, command and control issues in the security forces in the region,” he said, adding that the facility will also deal with the problems of drug trafficking, counter terrorism and crime and violence.In the meantime, Minister of National Security, Dr. Peter Phillips said that the centre is one of the clearest indicators of the seriousness with which the Caribbean region is beginning to address the problem of crime.
“All indicators point to crime, and violent behaviour as a major obstacle to the economic and social development of the region, particularly in a period where globalisation and the removal of border and trade restrictions, .have resulted in a very frenetic integration of criminal activity across borders,” he said.
According to the Minister, “the truth is, we have failed as a region to devote any serious intellectual resources to the tackling of this problem, and one might say we have also failed to devote a sufficient component of our national and regional financial and human resources to the solution that are necessary to solve this problem.”
“Of course, the net effect has been to reduce and impair the capacity of the Caribbean peoples to enjoy the quality of life that they look forward to, and indeed the quality of life which they deserve,” he said.
“It is my hope that this centre will provide the access to those resources available, not only on the various campuses of the University of the West Indies, but access to the intellectual resources that exist within the various Caribbean states that form the CARICOM region,” he added.

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