Tough laws and several years of SOEs will reduce murders, says O'Brien ChangTuesday, November 30, 2021
KINGSTON, Jamaica— Political analyst and public commentator, Kevin O’Brien Chang, believes Jamaica can achieve a sustainable reduction in serious crimes, in particular murders, similar to what New York City (NYC) achieved in the 1990s.
In Jamaica’s case, O’Brien Chang said tough laws must be enacted and enforced and there must be a long-term state of emergency (SOE) for up to three years if necessary.
The well-known businessman also pointed to statistics that show that between 1965 and 1993 Jamaica had a lower homicide rate than NYC.
“It is my contention, and I’m no security expert, that if we get the tougher laws and a full year of SOEs you could get a New York City-type snowball effect in Jamaica [where crime would fall rapidly],”O’Brien Chang said while speaking with OBSERVER ONLINE.
He mentioned that in 2010 when the then Jamaica Labour Party government imposed a two-month SOE in the three parishes of Kingston and St Andrew and St Catherine, murders fell by a significant 40 per cent.
“In 2018 when we had the SOEs in some areas, murders fell 20 per cent yet we never pursued them fully, we stopped them prematurely,” O’Brien Chang argued. He insisted that if the Jamaican government was to keep SOEs in place for one or two years “it’s perceivable that we could have a situation similar to New York City”.
The public commentator said Prime Minister Andrew Holness must present a “hopeful narrative” that Jamaica used to be safer than New York City all the way from the 1960s to the 1990s”.
He also warned that parliamentary opposition will pay a political price for not supporting an extension to the SOEs that were declared on November 14. He charged that opposition leader Mark Golding, and the People’s National Party spokesman on national security, Peter Bunting, have got their numbers wrong.
O’Brien Chang stated that since 2010, up to 71 per cent of Jamaicans have been in favour of SOEs. He said the 40 per cent decline in homicides in 2010 following a two-month SOE and a 20 per cent decline in 2018 is evidence that SOEs are effective contrary to what Bunting and Golding have both said.
He provided statistics which showed that in 1965 Jamaica’s murder rate was 3.7 to 100,000 inhabitants compared to NYC’s 7.5 to 100,000. The statistics show that up to 1993 Jamaica’s murder rate remained consistently lower than NYC at 26.5 per 100,000 compared to 27.5 per 100,000 that year.
Between 1993 and 1997 murders in NYC fell from a high of 1,927 to 750, a 61 per cent decline in the four-year period on the back of a zero-tolerance approach taken to all crime by then mayor Rudy Guiliani. By 2020 Jamaica’s murder rate was one of the highest in the world at 48.5 per 100,000 inhabitants while NYC stood at 5.5 per 100,000 inhabitants.
The downward spiral in NYC’s murder rate continued to under 300 from a high of 2,262 in 1990.
“So a sharp and sudden decline in murders is possible and I am convinced that a full year of SOEs or two or three if needed will achieve that,” said O’Brien Chang.
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