Editorial: Of crime, war and political promises

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Declaring war is usually never a good thing, however, in the case of crime, we stand firmly with those that will fight that battle.
After too long, the Attorney General Steadroy ‘Cutie’ Benjamin and Commissioner of Police Wendel Robinson finally held a press conference and sought to bring some comfort to the nation as a wave of crime has gripped our bit of paradise.
It was late but as is often said, better late than never.  In the press conference, Benjamin, who also has ministerial responsibility for public safety proclaimed that “It won’t be business as usual.”  Obvious words that needed to be said, both as a message to the criminals and as comfort to the law-abiding people of Antigua & Barbuda.
The minister, although flanked by the police commissioner, could have delivered a more impactful message had he included representatives of other arms of government and non-governmental organisations.  As we stated previously, the visuals of a united community talking with one voice is powerful and would send a strong message to the pea-brained criminals that look to take the easy road in life on the backs of the hard-working public. 
Whether the majority of people felt comforted by the utterance of the minister and the police commissioner is unknown but we did like it when the minster said, “Let me make this clear to all and sundry in this nation, the government has a zero tolerance to crime. Who does the crime, will pay and serve the time.”  Amen to that!
In many cases, we pay political lip service to crime.  Whenever a serious crime occurs, we react.  Invariably, politics takes centre stage and empty promises are made.  We are sure that the police can cite many instances where the promises of increased resources and improved conditions have been reneged.  Of course, the police, being the police, do not seek to embarrass the government when they face broken promises. That leaves the public to assume that the promised resources have been made available and that, in turn, leads to expectations.  Expectations that, ultimately, cannot be met by the police.
As you can imagine, this brings us full circle, except, the heightened expectations lead to greater disappointment and anger when they are not met.  The police become frustrated, the public more so, and the politicians run for cover.  It is time that we break that cycle.
We get back to one of our favourite quotes: “There’s never enough time to do it right, but there’s always enough time to do it over.”  These famous Jack Bergman words haunt the Caribbean.  So, if there is comfort to be taken, know that we are not alone. 
Taking Bergman’s words a bit further, we would modify it by adding resources.  Our version would say, there’s never enough time and resources to do it right, but there’s always enough time and resources to do it over.  And, if you peel back the layers, the root cause is a failure to plan. 
Because we are a reactionary culture, we are always doing it over.  In the case of crime, we only find the time and money when something extremely serious happens and our backs are against the wall.  We are not social psychologists but we are going to go out on a limb and say that this characteristic is cultural.  Our laid-back approach to life has evolved into a “mañana” attitude.  Why deal with the crime situation today when you can deal with it tomorrow?
Using this recent crime wave as a line in the sand, the Government has a great opportunity to break the cycle.  They and the police are in a position where the people will support an anti-crime plan that addresses their fears and brings comfort and a feeling of security on a day-to-day basis. 
The minister himself declared, “Antigua has sun, sand and sea and safety and security.
“We shall make sure that those two last words are enforced in the state of Antigua and Barbuda.”  Let that not be another broken political promise.  Rather, let us put in place a plan that will tackle crime up-front and stay ahead of the criminal curve.
We invite you to visit www.antiguaobserver.com and give us your feedback on our opinions.

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