Despite a few quiet periods, the situation of crime continues to worsen and very badly indeed! Within the past week we have in the Federation experienced three back to back murders, none of which fits the conventional wisdom in terms of the nature of the incidents that we have grown to expect. The robbery that went bad for the 70 plus taxi driver and the apparently botched robbery of the three month returned nationals, elderly couple, from the UK have like an iron pen emblazoned the point that our violence problem is not just ‘bad guys killing bad guys’. We have been warned not to delude ourselves into thinking that the situation doesn’t affect us. It impacts in a real way every single tourist, citizen and resident. Obviously, a tourist could be killed; citizens can continue to be slain innocently for just being in the wrong place at the right time and any resident could become a victim of a serious crime on St. Kitts and Nevis. With all the power that they wield generally, our politicians either claim no responsibility, admit privately to being out of ideas or have just become plain deafened to the noise of war in the camp. Without an immediate and dramatic change of course, with one single incident we risk reversing much if not all of the economic gains made to date. Some may ask how did we become so violent when we were once so peaceful? One may ask similarly, how is it that the violence we experience in our country these days is not going away despite the many sermons from the politicians’ bully pulpits and the deliberate attempts to intervene. Have those sermons been perceived as mere hypocrisy? If you hold a knife in one hand and a gun in the other, then ask me to stop my violence, will I be able to overlook the blatant contradiction? More to the point, if bellicose comments about your political rivals belch from your mouth and from the same mouth are words of exhortation to make peace and not engage in violence, will you be effective? Perhaps not! We need solutions and we need them now! Many ideas have been discussed, summits and conferences on crime convened; task forces set up and a host of other so called interventions employed. My favorite one is an FBI Consultant. Yet, the cure for the tumor on our national pride continues to elude us. I have written extensively on the many things that I think are wrong, often suggesting various strategies which I thought would be useful if tried. I have for example mentioned repeatedly that the biggest obstacle to solving our crime and security problem is, that as a nation, we are overly focused on politics and allocate far too little of the country’s resources to fighting crime. Put differently, the same paradigm used fifty to one hundred years ago; the same security infrastructure and mind set are being used, notwithstanding the fact that the challenges we face are obviously exponentially many times greater today than then. If we added up all the money borrowed and spent on government initiatives that were aimed at garnering and salvaging votes, on both islands, and used even a fraction to attend urgently to security, we could have prevented the present free fall over the precipice. We simply only need to take a small portion of it and pay our police officers a better salary, hire from outside the top brass or at least part of it, buy more vehicles for the police so their response time could be significantly improved (they don’t do badly with the existing constraints) and ensure that every precinct is run with state of the art equipment and facilities. Let’s forget about the rehearsal of what’s wrong and focus on solutions! Clearly, our problem is not that we lack solutions. We know exactly what is needed. We lack the political will however! And the electorate has inexplicably refused to hold the political leadership accountable for the a Bysmal management of this our biggest challenge to date. Resources are needed to assist single parts and households without biological fathers either present or attendant. Resources are needed to create and support community programs that will reach at risk boys (and girls frankly), enabling academic, vocational and emotional/spiritual potential. Resources are desperately needed to beef up our security apparatus, i.e. the criminal justice system generally, which includes strategies for more innovative, effective and efficient prosecution and sentencing, more robust rehabilitation programs as well as more judges and magistrates to prevent back-log in the courts. The governments on both islands need to act swiftly in getting these done. Both governmental leaders should immediately reach out a hand of diplomacy to the opposition and respectfully seek collaboration and vow to end the rancor especially with respect to crime. The present rhetoric, full of political fodder and preachy acquiescence to the criminals, should be replaced with words of atonement for past wrongs. We need instead, speeches that accept full responsibility (I don’t mean blame) for the present crisis and that express a solid commitment to fixing it, come hell or high water. We need far fewer persons in the country with influence complaining about one thing or other with respect to the leader of the country but then praising him profusely and admiringly for being such a clever politician. More next week on solutions. Political leaders are only part of the solution on crime and security. They are responsible for the leadership, setting the tone in the country conducive to crime or peace and for provision of the resources to fight it. The rest of us have a lot more of the work to do.