Speech

INTRODUCTION

Mr. Speaker,
I wish to dedicate this sectoral presentation to the hardworking, devoted and uncompromising members of Jamaica’s security force. In recognition of their tireless and committed service to Jamaica, I will be utilizing my presentation this afternoon to call the attention of the Jamaican people to the reality that faces these officers every day. I will also be inviting and challenging my colleague parliamentarians to an open, honest and frank reflection on the reality of Jamaica’s security issues.

On innumerous occasions we have debated and discussed in this Honourable House the crime statistics, anti-crime measures, and the would-be successes of the past. And yet these very well articulated and oftentimes politically motivated speeches are nothing short of a looped repetition, of what those who now oppose, would have us believe, were successful crime fighting initiatives.

It is not enough for us to meet in this forum every week to regurgitate and seek to frame the last fifteen years as any measure of success, as far as national security is concerned. We cannot, and this Administration certainly has not, been addressing crime in a business as usual manner.

If this Parliament is serious about breaking the back of crime, violence, and corruption in this country, then we have to all get serious about putting in place the budgetary, legislative, structural, technological, human resource, training, infrastructural, and equipment needs of the Force. We have to get serious about building, sustaining, and strengthening the capacity of the Jamaica Constabulary Force!

Mr. Speaker, the Jamaica Constabulary Force is Jamaica’s principal crime fighting apparatus. It currently has a complement of twelve thousand officers. Every day, the men and women of the JCF perform their duties with commitment and courage. Living out the oath to serve and protect comes at a very high cost for many of these officers. They are sons and daughters of our soil, oftentimes from very humble homes, who daily, make a conscious decision to carry out the duty of keeping Jamaica and all Jamaicans safe.

The conditions they face out there are not easy. Maintaining public order and social stability, enforcing the law, disrupting gangs and apprehending heavily armed perpetrators are not optional for our police officers. In the changing landscape, our officers are now also tasked with enforcing public health protocols, and intercepting cyber and financial crimes, as well as interrupting the trans-national trafficking of guns, drugs, and persons. This, in an environment in which criminals are “digital-natives” and gun ownership is democratized. The nature of crimes and criminal behaviour has evolved. Today’s criminals do not have the same boundaries, rules, or allegiances  as their predecessors. They live lavish lifestyles, and occupy multiple up-scale dwellings, which reduces their need to migrate from one area of the island to the next. They are mobile, connected, and violent.

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