Editorial: A necessary response to crime

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The nation has been struck by yet another tragedy.  In a senseless act of violence, Xavier Thomas, a 20-year-old woman was shot in the abdomen in what is alleged to be a drive-by shooting in Cedar Grove.
She succumbed to her injuries after being rushed to hospital in an ambulance.  
Our condolences go out the family and friends of this young woman – know that you are all in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.
There were two other victims in that incident, both cousins of the deceased. Thirty-two-year-old Sean Matthew, was reportedly shot in both thighs. He was rushed to hospital in a private car and is said to be recovering after surgery.  Lorne “TI” Nicholas, was the other shooting victim. It has been reported that efforts are underway to remove a bullet that remain lodged in his body and which will require additional surgery. 
At the time of writing, details are sketchy.  Even names are conflicting depending on the source.  People are connecting dots based on the known history of some of the victims but we cannot afford speculation at this early stage of the investigation.  Essentially, the only thing that we can report on the incident is that one person is dead, two are injured and two are assisting police with the investigation. 
Violence at this level has spread unease across the country.  It follows other extremely violent crimes in recent times.  Earlier this month, at least four gunmen invaded a Darkwood home, tied up William “Bill” Stewart and shot him dead.  In June, Charlesworth “Junie” Richards was shot multiple times in an attack at Ras Freeman Village.  He died on the scene. That followed the mysterious disappearance of his twin brother, Craig, in March.  These crimes have not yet been solved. 
In response to this latest episode, the police commissioner, Wendel Robinson, has expressed confidence that the Cedar Grove incident will be solved.  He reassured the public that all tips are being pursued with vigour and called on the public to assist the police with solving cases. The top cop lamented that the reality being faced by law enforcement and society is that certain criminals who are on bail for other serious crimes are at war with other criminals.
We appreciate the Commissioner’s comments, however, at this point, we feel as though there needs to be a direct conversation with the public so as to allay people’s fears or at least attempt to do so. 
Maybe television has raised our expectations as it relates to the response by public officials and law enforcement in the aftermath of serious crimes but somebody needs to stand in front of the public and say something.
In other parts of the world, expectations dictate that there is a rapid public response to situations like these and we can understand why.  Just the visuals of law enforcement, public administration and activists joining together to deliver a united message is powerful enough to calm much of the community’s shared fear.  
Often, we hear the questions, “what is the police force doing?” or “what is the government doing?” and seldom are those questions answered to the public’s satisfaction.  That leads to speculation and rarely are the answers that result from that speculation positive towards the target of the questions. 
To repeat what we have said before, someone will fill a void if it remains. 
We understand that it is ‘all hands on deck’ when crimes like this occur but there is also a critical need to ensure that the public is informed and feels confident that those in charge of public safety are on the job.
For example, we do not want to see the Commissioner having to respond to the National Coalition of Neighbourhood Watches (which has called on him to disclose what strategies are being used to fight gun crime).
Rather, we want to see a press conference with the Police Commissioner being flanked by the Attorney General and representatives of the National Coalition of Neighbourhood Watches telling us of the coordinated and united approach that they are taking to fight crime. 
The latter approach demonstrates to the nation that everyone on the side of good is united in the fight against evil. 
No one will have to ask “what is the police force doing?” or “what is the government doing?” because the answer will be evident.  It is often said that small things make the difference, and while this cannot be considered small, in the greater scheme of things the effort to set and maintain perceptions and expectations is relatively small.

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