Minister of National Security Peter Bunting has scoffed at his critics who say he was engaged in more talk than action over the first 100 days of his tenure.
According to Bunting, while he took on the mantle of evangelist of sorts over the period – preaching anti-crime sermons to Jamaicans – the decrease in crime recorded recently is an indicator of his success.
“That is a fact and I don’t apologise that I have been talking a lot,” Bunting told The Sunday Gleaner.
Added Bunting: “I am convinced that this can be done by policing along with buying and winning over the broader society, so I make no apology for meeting with the citizens … .”
Bunting said that the way to proceed is to challenge the subculture of violence.
“Our violence comes not only from gangs and criminal groups; we also have a significant component of domestic violence which would never be prevented by conventional policing alone, we need the entire community to be involved.”
The national security minister conceded readily that life has not been easy over the past three months.
“It’s been a very intense 100 days. January was a very bad month from the perspective of murders; literally from the day I was sworn in, I had to grapple with that.”
But for Bunting, there are indications that this most challenging period has passed.
“By the end of the quarter, the results we are seeing is that the murder rate for the period came in significantly lower than the previous quarter,” said Bunting as he noted that March was the month with the lowest number of murders over the past nine years.
“Many strategies were responsible for that,” declared Bunting.
He cited heavy deployment in the St Catherine Northern division (Greater Spanish Town) and the establishment of a task force to combat the lotto scam in St James.
“That was where the majority of murders were taking place and we have seen substantial reduction based on those two initiatives,” the minister said
Bunting also referred to a third initiative. “I believe the anti-gang media campaign that has been running over the last six weeks and, hopefully, the combination of the three initiatives will directly impact on the reduction in murders.
“We have developed a 2012 National Security Policy. There was no equivalent during the JLP administration and we have completed the first stage of that,” Bunting disclosed.
Asserting that his team was in the process of implementing recommendations out of that strategy, Bunting cited the creation of the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Task Force.
“That as you know is an agency that is going to tackle the profits of crime and corruption issues and to look at kingpins and facilitators.”