A strong word must be sent criminal kind
Years ago in Barbados, whenever serious crime reared its ugly head, attention immediately focused on a few individuals, especially if guns were involved. These persons, who were well known to the police, were regular guests of Her Majesty on Station Hill and somehow always tended to run afoul of the law whenever they were released back into society.
Whenever they were on the run from the law, the country used to be tenterhooks. However, though their names were associated with illegal guns, they were never held for killing anyone. Their clashes were mostly with the police. Eventually, they died by the gun –– at the hands of police –– after living by the gun.
The nature of gun-related crime, which is currently the cause of much public anxiety, has undergone a dramatic change over the years. In bygone years, real guns were not easy to come by, as is the case today. The bad guys of the day, therefore, resorted to the creative manufacture of home-made contraptions known as pipe guns.
Whereas feared criminals of yesteryear were mostly grown men, today they are mostly trigger-happy youths, with obviously much easier access to real guns. Many of them have not lost their mothers’ features, to use an old Barbadian saying. In comparison with yesteryear, the big difference is that gun violence today often results in serious injury and sometimes death.
It is time for our society to take note of what is happening and resolve to taking decisive action against this menace. The key question which society must ask itself is whether it is prepared to allow a small, lawless minority, with no apparent respect for law or life, to hold the vast law-abiding majority of the population to ransom. If the answer is a resounding no,
then the next step is a firm decision on what kind of action has to be taken.
Solving the problem is not going to be easy, but solve it we must, for the consequences of failure are too far-reaching and will negatively impact on all of us. Besides equipping our police with the necessary resources to be more effective in crime-fighting, we also need as a society to engage in
a serious conversation to ascertain the root causes of the worrisome level of deviance among a small percentage of our young men who are at war with each other.
Fighting crime is not the exclusive job of the police, as some people are quick to say. Rather, it requires an effective partnership between the police and citizenry, as was the case years ago, that contributed in a significant way to ensuring our communities remained safe and peaceful. It is unfortunate that the police today no longer enjoy the kind of public support and respect as was the case in bygone years. Changes in societal values have been a significant contributor.
Against this backdrop, it must be challenging for the police to get the kind of public cooperation, especially in the vital area of intelligence, which is necessary for preventing and solving crime. The sharing of vital information with the police is a crucial contribution which the average citizen can make to the anti-crime effort. However, for various reasons, some citizens
no longer see this as a civic duty.
In the last 25 years or so, the police have come to be viewed by some people, especially young men, as being against them instead of being there to serve them. These views, to some extent, were influenced by exposure to ideas from other countries, including a few in our region, which were imported especially via music.
It can be argued that these views have contributed in some measure to the challenges which the police are experiencing attracting young men to its ranks. This is in sharp contrast to yesteryear when being a policeman was a much sought-after career opportunity.
It is in the society’s best interest, and the police’s as well, to work towards repairing the obvious deterioration in their relationship with a primary focus on rebuilding trust. This is important because when the police go after the criminal element, they can only produce the best results if they do so knowing that they have the full support of the society behind them.
Our society still has a window of opportunity to act and send a strong message to the criminal element. There are some countries where this opportunity does not exist and hope is virtually lost.
With steely determination and a united approach, we can fix the problem and spare Barbados from the agony of such misfortune.