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Minister of State in the Ministry of National Security, Senator Arthur Williams, has urged all law-abiding citizens to get involved in the fight against crime and violence in the country.
“Many initiatives have been developed for the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) and the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) to deal with the scourge of crime and violence, and they have had varying degrees of success. But the job of fighting crime cannot only be that of the police and the army. I submit that all Jamaicans must play a part in that fight,” Senator Williams said, during his contribution to the State of the Nation Debate in the Senate on July 25.
The State Minister said that the vision of any Government in respect of national security, must be to establish a safe and secure environment, in which citizens can be free from the fear of criminals, an environment which upholds the fulfillment of human rights and dignity for all persons and a society where all citizens can enjoy a better quality of life, in safety and security. He noted, however, that this vision had long been compromised.
“Not only has the level of violent crime increased over time, but the pattern has changed, and a higher degree of organization and co-ordination has emerged. The country has been experiencing extremely high murder rates and a continuous growth in the number of violent incidents. We have developed a culture of violence and a devaluation of human life and disrespect for law and order. Over the decades, police-community relations have broken down and an unhealthy mutual distrust prevails,” Senator Williams argued.
He encouraged Jamaicans to seek to understand and “buy into” the concept of community policing, which was recently launched by the JCF.
Mr. Williams pointed out that community policing is both a philosophy and an organizational strategy that promotes a partnership between people and the police. “It is based on the premise that both the police and the community must work together to identify, prioritise and solve contemporary problems, such as crime, drugs, the fear of crime, social and physical disorder and overall neighbourhood decay, with the goal of improving the overall quality of life in the community,” the Senator informed.
He said community policing would require a “force-wide” commitment, and that the JCF must create and develop, by intensive training, a new breed of police officers who would act as a direct link between the police and the people in the community.
“Community policing, because it is a partnership between the people in the community and the police, is going to require also, a commitment from members of the community. They have to work with the police to address crime and public safety issues in the community, of which they are a part,” the State Minister stressed.
“It is a relationship that is going to require the police to treat citizens with respect, and that the people treat the police with respect also. It can no longer be that people in the community are ‘informers’. Instead, it must be about people in the community telling what they know, in order to make their community safe,” he added.