THE EDITOR: Open letter to National Security Minister Edmund Dillon.
Many far and wide may have been saddened and traumatised by the kidnapping of Minister Stuart Young’ stepdaughter. It has caused me to find my pen wishing to offer an initiative that would minimise such heinous crimes.
Currently, gun-welding bandits who are the owners of vehicles are the greatest challenge for our police. From the comfort of their luxury vehicles they “take out” their victims. Gone are the days when they emerged from tracks. The news report is always “and he sped away.”
For many years the police had been employing the occasional stop-and-search and roadblock exercises to curb gun-related offences. While there was some drop in kidnappings, the murders continued unabated.
What is clearly needed is a measure that would ensure that it is extremely risky for anyone who does not own a firearm user’s licence to be on the roads with a firearm or any explosive device.
As you are aware, whenever one is faced with risks, behavioural change becomes automatic in the majority of cases. It is a defence mechanism.
Equipping every police division with a mobile search unit whose sole function is to stop and search vehicles specifically for arms, ammunition and explosive devices, with foot patrols conducting similar exercises by day and by night, would undoubtedly create such risks and serve as a major deterring factor.
As you can see, stop and search is too crucial to be conducted occasionally as is currently done. There should be more consistency. It should be conducted simultaneously in all parts of the country by the various units. These operations would cause no traffic congestion or obstruction.
I would like to emphasise, though, that the purpose of this initiative would be defeated should the officers to form this “pull-over” squad be not hand-picked by the Police Commissioner and trained by a competent authority before taking up the assignment.
Mr Minister, sometimes bitter medication has to be taken to cure certain illnesses when other medicines fail or appear sure to fail. The occasional stop-and-search exercise could be likened to a mild cough syrup. I am prescribing a strong and bitter medication that may even be bad-tasting, but finally there would be full recovery from illnesses. This proposal would also have a deterring effect on motorists, who in the dead of night remove contraband items from our illegal entry ports. I give way to anyone who can produce a more simplistic and unambiguous measure that would have such a deterring effect on errant motorists.
Numerous positives would be derived from the implementation of this deterrent. There would be no more business closures in so-called hot-spot areas. Disturbing newspaper headlines such as “Seven killed in 24 hours” would be seen no more. Trigger-happy youths would be compelled to ride without their guns. The country would become a safer place in which to live with less bloodstains marking our streets and towns.
But crime has hit home, Dillon. A government minister, your colleague, your “brother,” is the one who has been affected by a gun-related crime, by the attack of a gun-wielding criminal and the ball happens to be in your court in this game where there is a must-win situation. Citizens have now become focused and tense. They wait with bated breath to see you play your deciding stroke.
DAVID C O’NEAL