BY KIMONE FRANCIS, Jamaica Observer
PRIME Minister Andrew Holness, admitting before hundreds of Christians yesterday that for years successive administrations have been tackling crime using “illegal” methods, has vowed to break the back of crime by using the law.
Holness made the revelation while addressing the 15th annual ‘Heal the Family, Heal the Nation’ Conference at the National Arena. The annual event is spearheaded by the Bishop Deford Davis-led Power of Faith Ministries International.
“There is a sense in the public that our police force should go harder at the criminals; that someone should get [taken] out. I’ve gone to receptions and people there see me and say we are being too soft; that we need a particular kind of policing, but I want to say to you, particularly the Church, that Jamaica cannot go back down that road. No, we can’t go back to the point where we have very high police killings. We are going to fight crime using the law,” Holness said in his address to churchgoers.
“The truth is, we have been fighting crime using the other methods — extrajudicial [killings] — for many years and here we are still. So let us use the law. If it means we have to strengthen the law; if it means we have to bring in more technology; and it definitely means that we have to bring in the public, you, into the crime-fighting solution,” he said to thunderous applause.
Declaring that the Government has a crime-fighting plan which is largely on track, Holness said in the coming months more elements of this will be rolled out.
This, he said, will include the additional training of lawmen; an increase in service vehicles on the road; the beefing up of police intelligence; additional equipment to assist with public order, traffic management; and additional crime-fighting strategies.
“And we will continue to use, as far as possible, the zones of special operations and the states of public emergency. We will arrest the crime situation and we will do it without abusing anyone’s rights, because we are a society, we are a Government that believes in preserving, protecting and promoting the human rights of our citizens,” said Holness.
He added: “We’re training more detectives; we’re increasing the size of the JDF (Jamaica Defence Force) so that they can support the police more. We’re doing everything possible to build out our national security apparatus. But there is one [more] element in that equation, and that is you; what you choose to do. If you choose to live at peace with everyone, problem solved,” he added.
Noting that the crime-fighting strategy is not one-dimensional, Holness said there are programmes in place to deal with not only the security aspect but also the community development and spiritual human development aspects.
“We see religion and faith as very important in our daily lives and we can utilise our faith to solve national problems. Using faith, embracing faith, does not mean that we are irrational people. It doesn’t mean that. And so, as I stand here today, I want to say to you that your Government will use all the tools at our disposal to bring the crime and violence challenge that we have under control, and an important part of the toolbox is the faith of the people — our belief in God; our belief in the scriptures. I believe in God, and I believe in the scriptures,” the prime minister stated.