Jamaica’s Commissioner of Police Lucius Thomas, has assured Jamaicans living in Canada that the police are committed to winning the war on crime. Speaking on Friday, Jan. 20 to more than 300 Jamaicans at the Jamaican Canadian Association (JCA) Centre in Toronto, Canada, Commissioner Thomas said that despite the large number of homicides in 2005, the police force did record a number of positives. “How many of you know that there was a four per cent reduction in total major crimes?” he asked. “We recovered 692 illegal firearms, well above the number recovered in 2004, we were successful in dismantling some of the major gangs and we significantly disrupted others mainly through the efforts of Operation Kingfish.”
Explaining that the majority of crimes – some 70 per cent – are being committed by young people who “kill, maim, rob and hurt each other for the simplest of reasons,” the Commissioner said over 70 per cent of the same age group are also the victims of these crimes. “Too many of them are idle. Too many of them are inadequately educated. Too many of them are downright illiterate. Too many have no one to mentor them and so they are condemned to a life of hopelessness and despair. This hopelessness and despair provide a fertile breeding ground for crime and violence to flourish.”
Contributing to the growth in crime, Commissioner Thomas who days ago observed his first anniversary on the job, blamed the rapid growth of the ‘don’ culture, the number of informal communities with zinc fences and no road network, criminal deportees, Jamaica’s position as a major transshipment port for cocaine and the increase in gun trafficking from the United States, Central America and now Haiti, which he described as disturbing. Noting that guns are very expensive, the Commissioner said that it is not poor people who are purchasing guns and ammunition, but rather “men of influence” who are now being identified by the police and will be targeted.
The Commissioner told the gathering that the force was cleaning up its house and so far had removed approximately 60 corrupt police officers. “While the majority of our officers are clean, honest and hardworking, corruption in the organization will prevent us from tackling organized crime and prevent us from being successful.” Highlighting some of the initiatives the police will be employing in the near future, Jamaica’s top cop said they intend to enhance the investigative capacity of the force and the clear-up rate, noting that “the man who kills today and nothing happens is likely to kill tomorrow.” Police officers will have informal meetings with residents, he said, so that if someone is seen talking with an officer the person won’t be branded an “informer.”
Jamaica’s High Commissioner to Canada, His Excellency Carl Marshall, noted that the police force by itself cannot solve crimes, but needs the support of all citizens. He urged those who send remittances home to ask their families to account for the money because sometimes it is used for criminal matters. The Police Commissioner’s five-day visit was facilitated by the Jamaican Diaspora-Canada Foundation (JDCF). President Philip Mascoll said the group will be bringing more Jamaican officials to Canada “to re-connect with Jamaicans in the diaspora as we all work together for the betterment of Jamaica.” While in Canada, Commissioner Thomas, who was accompanied by Superintendent Lorna Wilson-Morgan and Detective Superintendent Donovan Graham, also addressed the Jamaica Foundation of Hamilton and the congregation of the Revivaltime Tabernacle, and paid courtesy calls on Toronto’s Chief of Police Bill Blair and Hamilton’s Chief of Police Brian Mullan.