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Sunday 21 July 2019
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Bon Air bloodbath

BLOODBATH. Carnage. Slaughter. These are just some of the words that come to mind in relation to the shocking developments in Bon Air over the last week.

On Monday, three people – Dwight Richardson, Salim Dominique, and Kadeem Williams – were murdered, and a fourth – Nigel Scott – was seriously injured. Days prior, Ronald McKie was shot dead. And a day after that, Anderson Forbes and Anderson James were killed at McKie’s wake.

We call on the authorities to treat with this spate of murderous violence in the strongest possible terms. Police have beefed up security and increased patrols, but what matters most is deterrence: those responsible must be identified and face a court of law.

All of it is something of a baptism of fire for new Police Commissioner Gary Griffith. Griffith asked for no honeymoon and he most certainly has not received it. He hit the ground running with the setting up of a crime hotline to a personal number and has also unveiled new military-style uniforms for members of the service.

Whether the latter is an indication of the policy direction or managerial style the new commissioner intends to take the service to is not apparent. Whatever the case, what is required now must be more than skin-deep change. Authorities must unearth the cause of this spate of killings at Bon Air with a view to ensuring it has come to an end.

Yet again, there is some conjecture about the role of the State’s make-work programmes and the distribution of contracts. Lamentably, state-granted subsidies – even including the allocation of housing – have now developed a reputation for being the backdrop to a range of dangerous problems, not limited to Bon Air.

Still, as relevant a factor as state patronage may be, that would only be a piece of the puzzle. Where are criminals getting guns? Who is supporting criminal groups? And why are some citizens in certain communities more at risk of getting lost within the empire of underworld criminality than others? Are police patrols losing their effectiveness in guaranteeing the safety of our communities? Does the new police uniform hint at a reform of the relationship between the police and the Defence Force?

Meanwhile, it says something about how far as a society we have come when the murder of six citizens can seemingly fall by the wayside. We are hopeful this matter is not being relegated by the authorities to the background.

Griffith has sent the right signal by meeting with key stakeholders such as the Police Social and Welfare Association, the Prison Officers’ Association, and the Commissioner of Prisons. While he must be able to rely on the support of his subordinates, all will be hoping that he will step up to the mantle to contain this dire situation.

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