Commentary: Policing, politics, crime, and complexities inside few Caribbean islands.

BY R.D. Miller


Quietly, many are seeing parts of the Caribbean’s fractured landscape continue to erode as it looks for a clear path in managing economic decay, politics, crime, and policing.

There have been different political leaders, Commissioners, popular initiatives, problem-oriented policing to more promises of better economic growth to left people from poverty that often bread crime and many reports have shown these implementations have not addressed systemic problems.

This is not a policy innovation and crime prevention strategy opinion, but simply a quick look at the socio-economic and political complexities that creating a divide between many communities and governance.

Several communities known for their beautiful sunsets beaming off the warm Caribbean Sea have been plagued with the proliferation of violence. These atrocities do not discriminate – from law enforcement officers, young and old to anyone else in its path

A few decades ago, along these shores, few people owned a licensed gun. It was the local business owner and law enforcement. Today, even your taxi drivers to the grocery baggers are armed.

The death toll each year consistently outnumbers the calendar days. This mayhem combined with poor economic conditions has created complexity in balancing personal freedom, crime, and perception..

The complexity

The downtrodden, poverty, corruption, inequality, and crime, whether self-inflicted or not, crime are ubiquitous. Where it does not get addressed is on the table of minimization and the propensity to compare to other nations.

Playing the lottery has become the only hope for many out of poverty and, silently, it is creating more poverty while lives are being lost more frequently than the daily games being played.

Globally, poverty has been on the rise according to may experts. It is also not unique to see police unions overwhelmingly frustrated in the confidence of their leadership, or push back on proposed changes that the community, or legislator proposed.

Many police leaders around the world sometimes stepped own, voted out, do not re-election, stemming from an ongoing uptick in crimes, or other community issues sometime due an officer poor judgment that may led to the death of an individual. 

In countries like Haiti, Trinidad, Jamaica, Bahamas, Guyana, and some Latin countries, it is not about the ethnic, religious, or cultural differences that forever link from the slave trades. The recent headlines are depressing. For some looking in and others inside looking out, a paradigm shift is needed.

The consequential revolving door that continues to call for past leaders or current to quit or force a quick election as the solution has never solved crimes and economic stagnation. These frustrated strategies only deflect the true systematic social decay being kicked down the road for the next generation.

If you keep carry out the similar thing over and over and expect a different result, your system will continue to fail.

For many years, I have traveled north and played on an old soccer team despite knowing I was not ready. My connection guaranteed me a spot even over others who were more qualified.

After the last whistle blown, I left broken arm, toe, strain, or other serious pain and even contributed to a few losses, when I could have enjoyed the same success on the sidelines.

Public Safety and Policing:

It seems pride and power outweigh intelligence when a fundamental crime control policy is lacking. The struggle between policing and politics is not a new paradigm. Studies have shown that this institution has always had close ties to politicians since the early 18th century when it was formed in Metropolitan London.

Although some argue that the concept of policing was used to keep slaves from running away from their masters, policing, whether political, reform, and community era, continues to play a vital role in societies’ public safety.

The fact is, regardless of the community, it is tough being a police officer. They consistently see the worst of people and, yet, the expectation is to stay calm.

Photo by Pixabay

They take on tasks most of us would not even fathom, from death to mentally ill, intoxicated, to rude people, while balancing reality from perception. At the end of each shift, they simply want to get back home safely to their families

In any system, there are some bad cops, just as there are bad businesspersons, doctors, lawyers, teachers, etc., but they cannot do it alone. Tough on crime perception strategies without resources and community support only allows criminal enterprises to thrive.

Sadly, some business owners who tried to make remittances more accessible through a Western Union are now being robbed few yards from a police station. Today, some major money transfer companies have placed limits on funds due to fraud, and the inability to curtail perpetrators.

The Crime data: Although we are not decoupling the data, recent statistics show that the murder rates in most of these English-speaking Caribbean countries are at or above 30 per 100,000 people. These rates are six times US levels and 15-30 times those of most European countries.

Personal responsibility:

Blaming your government for lack of business opportunities as criminals kill and rob stores that serve the community needs a rethinking.

This is not indeed different from an unemployed student who parades the community streets with the latest model car, fashion, and technology gadget without a legitimate source of income and is later killed in a police shoot-out.

Rather than blaming the police, one should take an assessment of parenting or the lack thereof. Sure, you can question the due process.

The criminal mentality and criminogenic needs cannot be managed with the same old political ploys or and law enforcement bullets. This firmware may create a bounce in the polls while crime remains unmanageable.

Moreover, selling an election as the solution only benefits the concept of absolute power and that only corrupts as many have argued. Same as political divides, criminals use the same tactics to their advantage.

On many of our shores, politics is like a contact sport. After the votes are counted, the wounded are sidelined for decades. The leftover fragments are simply not the failure of law enforcement.

The Politics:

The region’s criminal and political decay seems like the past enslaved period when colonial rulers judged the inhabitants by race, class, and gender, as many studies have noted, to maintain their own identity.

In 2014, British Prime Minister David Carmon gave a speech on the Century of World War I. He highlighted his willingness and the importance to merge local ideas and not just national initiatives and government actions. Although some might argue this could be due to the lack of assimilation by some groups.

The Caribbean should consider this idea, or build on some core argument.

However, this is not about revising the colonial period that some blame when today’s crime and poverty are difficult to reverse. Subconsciously, the British footprints are still clear in parts of the region, and quietly some are debating what if the British Pound was still the official currency.

The uniqueness is that, a system that embraces out of many one people across these shores. It is critical to make it serve people, reduce complexities between the society as who, what, when and how they fit in and live safely.

The politics that is often woven in public safety decisions should not be a sport of allies and aristocrats, but trained law enforcement experts like a scientist on managing a pandemic or a surgeon for surgery.

All policies, politics many have argued, should be about prosperity, socio-economic growth. Ongoing erosion cannot be about political bickering. It is time to rebuild the middle class to address crime, the youths impact and upward mobility.

The outlook:

The lack of opportunity and a fundamental decay in government, education, combined with unqualified teachers have left the youth especially leaving school undereducated without hope. Several are now roaming the streets asking for handouts and not an innovative mind.

It takes more than curfew to create a perception of safety. Like the ocean without a levee to sustain overflow, many of these communities are just bouncing around while getting both criminal and political hits. As a result, the society has eroded and scattered.

conflicts, poverty, and crime of opportunity complied with destructive adversarial relationships require detailed contextual analysis of the community and its relations.

It should not be about social class, gender, and sexuality. Focus should be on attracting investments, to crate new and better paying jobs; expand an environment where returning residents can feel comfortable

It is time to develop stable economic systems to deter crimes. Despite dissenting views and that is consistently good in a democracy, collaboration is key to move from bureaucratic and dysfunctional power conflicts.

Holding perpetrators accountable while helping the poor is essential. However, upward mobility starts with “The Man in the Mirror”, a song by the late pop star Michael Jackson.

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