Time sure flies. It's hard to believe almost 8 years have passed since our parliamentarians conspired to vote down the State of Emergency renewal and extension to St James and St Catherine requested by the security forces in July 2010. This was my opinion then.

" Betrayed - Politicians Fail People Again

Those who say the recently ended state of emergency (SOE) served no real purpose must place little value on human life. From January 1 to May 31, Jamaica experienced 737 murders, or 4.8 per day. Between June 1 and July 19 there were 137 murders, or 2.8 per day. That is an over 40 per cent drop. Had the January to May rate continued, June and July would have seen 238 murders. This means probably 101 Jamaican lives were saved over 49 days.

Jamaica's five-year average murder rate of 51 per 100,000 is by far the world's highest. We have a higher violent death rate than terrorist-plagued states such as Afghanistan, Palestine and Iraq. Those who claim that the SOE was not warranted, as it should only be used in extraordinary circumstances, are, in effect, arguing that our world-leading homicide level is a 'normal' situation that should be allowed to continue indefinitely.

The overwhelming majority of Jamaicans unquestionably wanted the SOE extended for at least another month. Nearly all my customers and my staff and taxi men and street vendors kept saying the same thing - "We feeling safer, and we want to keep feeling safer, so keep things going as they are!". Did any of those members of parliament (MPs) who abstained in Tuesday's vote consult with their constituents?

No one has a greater knowledge of the national security situation than the police commissioner and Jamaica Defence Force chief of staff. Why then should anyone doubt their opinion that another month of the SOE was necessary before a regular crime-fighting strategy could be put in place? To lambaste the security forces high command's call for an extension without even asking their reasons why, as so many of our talking heads did, was indefensible intellectual irresponsibility.

But despite the wishes of the public and the security high command, Parliament failed to muster the 31 votes needed for an extension. Not only were we betrayed by our politicians again, but they then insulted our intelligence."

Polls then showed that the vast majority of Jamaicans supported the proposed July 2010 extension.

“July 27, 2010

Seventy-one percent of the respondents approved of the government's decision to impose a State of Emergency, on May 23.

There was also significant support for the extension of the State of Emergency.

Thirty-seven point seven percent of the persons polled wanted to extend the security measure to the entire island, and an additional 26% wanted it imposed on other parts of the island.

When added together, a strong majority 63% favoured its extension to other parishes in Jamaica.

...just over 15% did not support the imposition of the emergency measure at all."

Well with our murder rate having gone right back up to pre 2010 State of Emergency levels, that 63% has now gone to 89%.

“March 2, 2018

The latest RJR Gleaner Group Don Anderson poll has found that there is overwhelming public support for the State of Emergency which was declared in St. James in January of this year.

"Nine out of every ten persons that we interviewed supported the State of Emergency that was imposed. Eighty-nine per cent, to be exact

...there was great support for extending the State of Emergency to other areas.

"Eighty-nine per cent of all persons that we interviewed said that they believe that the State of Emergency should be extended to other parishes."

The message is crystal clear Mr. Prime Minister. The people want those in charge to finish the job so unconscionably interrupted in July 2010. Keep the state of emergency in place as long as and extend it to anywhere the security forces deem it necessary.

Those who say the State of Emergency unfairly targets poor black Jamaicans overlook the fact that 99% of our murder victims are poor black Jamaicans. The richer classes can afford to hire private security to protect themselves and their families. The average men and women who are unable to do so, are the ones who bear the brunt of the yearly slaughter that made Jamaica in 2017 the third most murderous country on the planet. Our 1,615 murders last year translates to a rate of 59.1 per 100,000. The average global average intentional homicide rate is about 6.2 per 100,000. So Jamaica has a murder rate about 10 times higher than the world average. How in God’s name can we allow that to continue?

Of course the state of emergency alone will not solve our crime problem. But it is a necessary first step. There is no redemption for men who chop off heads and gouge out eyes and burn families alive. No amelioration can take place till those who terrorize communities are taken out of circulation.

Once the irredeemables have been removed, we must start to regularize these crime ravaged communities with counselling, education and training. Critical long term measures must also include addressing our fractured family structures, and improving the inadequate education system that currently produces hordes of unemployable young men who are easy prey for dons and gangs. Tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime should be the national crime fighting mantra.

But as the song says, let's start at the very beginning. Which means putting the vicious heartless criminals who have been wreaking havoc on our country behind bars for life. Then maybe Mr. Prime Minister you can start realizing your vision of we Jamaicans once again being able to sleep with our windows open.

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