Less talk, more action, Mr Griffith
It is now one hundred days since Gary Griffith’s shock appointment as Minister of National Security and, frankly, his performance to date offers little reason for optimism.
If he has distinguished himself at all over the period, it is by his penchant for gun-talk. Over the weekend, with murder statistics continuing to climb, his response was yet another brash declaration of war against crime in yet another chest-beating statement. Mr Griffith must be very naïve if he believes that his statements are scaring the criminals away. More likely, his tough-talking is merely testing the patience of a public that already has its fill of politicians promising to rein in crime and bring it under control. What people want is action with clear results, not talk and more talk.
Mr Griffith’s appointment was always a gamble by the Prime Minister. Her decision to hand the challenging national security portfolio to her security adviser suggested to many that she had run out of options. Despite his training as a military man, Minister Griffith’s reputation in politics was that of a talker who didn’t always think through his words. If anything, his ministerial performance has now embellished this reputation.
His attitude, both in dealing with crime as well as with the recent immigration matter involving Jamaicans, remains that of a military man locked in his role of leading the troops. The portfolio of national security, however, is of a different order. It calls for a strategic mind that leads, not a battalion of troops, but an entire nation of many and varied interest, to a point of greater security through accountable action.
Mr Griffith cannot keep counting on bravado to win the confidence of a public that is still trying to understand why, if he knows who the gang leaders are, he has not acted on it. If there is not enough information to support action, he should keep quiet and allow the relevant authorities to do their work in order to bring their investigations to successful conclusion.
His repeated declarations about starving gangs of state funds have been equally meaningless. There is as yet no evidence of any disruption of the channels through which public funds are funnelled to gangs in attempts to buy the peace or shore up political support.
In his weekend battle-cry, Mr Griffith gave a new undertaking that his action plan would bring results in three months’ time. Given the lack of results to date, he would be well-advised to tone down the rhetoric and focus on ensuring the effectiveness of his plan. The public will hold him to his word that by Carnival next year, we will all enjoy a safer country with a more palpable sense of personal security.
Minister Griffith might also consider spending some quiet time in understanding the nature of crime in this country. While gang warfare is a serious and ugly element of the national landscape, it is only a part of the larger problem that now engulfs us. In dealing with this, he will need more than stridency in combat mode.