Pubdate: Wed, 26 May 2010
Source: Jamaica Gleaner, The (Jamaica)
Copyright: 2010 The Gleaner Company Limited


THE OPERATION by the Jamaican security forces in the west Kingston
community of Tivoli Gardens is not yet over, so there can as yet be no
full assessment of its achievements.

But this newspaper believes that the performance of the men and women
of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) and the Jamaica Defence Force
over the past two days has been nothing short of commendable. They
have acted, not only in an organised and resolute manner, but have
displayed bravery and courage in confronting a major challenge to the
Jamaican state by narco-terrorists and criminals.

This, of course, is not to suggest that the price, in terms of
casualties, on either side, has, so far, not been high. Three members
of the security forces - two police men and a soldier - have died. At
least 25 are dead and 26 injured in Tivoli Gardens. Yet, these numbers
might have been far worse, but for the discipline of the security forces.

destroy the don man's power

We urge them to maintain the professionalism that has helped to keep
casualties to a minimum.

Whatever the final tally from the fighting, concentrated in west
Kingston, but with skirmishes elsewhere in the capital and in St
Catherine, this battle had to be engaged. And it must end in a clear
victory for the Jamaican state. There must be no ambiguity about the
inviolability of the Jamaican state.

The likes of Christopher Coke, the alleged drug kingpin, whom the
Americans want to extradite and put on trial, must be clear about
this. Never again must any 'don' be allowed such purchase in any area
that, like Mr Coke, they can, with the support of residents and gunmen
and human shields, barricade themselves in a community to engage law
enforcement officers in pitched battle.

In this regard, a number of things must be accomplished once the
Tivoli mission is complete and the dust settles.

continued presence of security forces

First, it must be clear that while the capture and neutralisation of
Mr Coke - who may now have added treason and crimes against humanity
to his alleged offences - is paramount, that cannot have been the sole
objective of this mission. The 'reintegration' of Tivoli Gardens -
many of whose residents display a willingness to be alienated from the
rest of the society and a lack of respect for its institutions - into
Jamaica must be part of the exercise.

Police and soldiers, therefore, cannot withdraw from the area in the
near term. Their continued presence in the community is essential, but
law enforcement agents must work towards a new relationship with the
community. In other words, the JCF will have to quickly move beyond
the paramilitary offensive to community-style policing.

This will not be easy. It will require policy initiatives from the
state to create a social and economic environment in which new
Christopher Cokes find it hard, if not impossible, to flourish.

Additionally, the flare-ups elsewhere in Jamaica in recent days demand
that the security forces must, in short order, enter other gang
territory, such as Mountain View, Red Hills Road, Spanish Town and
parts of St James, to purge them of the criminal hordes. We cannot
waste the current momentum. 
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