Better technology a must in fighting crime — Bunting

Minister of National Security Senator Peter Bunting is among those who believe that the State must step up its initiative to increase the spread of technology as Jamaica seeks to tame its number one problem: crime.

In an interview with the Jamaica Observer following last Friday’s decision by senators of his Opposition People’s National Party’s against supporting an extension of the states of emergency declared almost a fortnight ago by the Government, Bunting underscored the need for technology to be given a major boost, as the island grapples with a recent average of murders in excess of 1,400 annually, plus other major crimes.

Asked if the Government should make a determined effort to seek major funding to increase and improve technology, Bunting stated:”We don’t have to seek the funding, we have had so much money in the Ministry of National Security, but the problem is poor management.

“[Minister of National Security Dr Horace] Chang has had more capital budget in one year than I had in four years,” said Bunting, now Leader of Opposition Business in the Senate, who spent four years at the Ministry of National Security as minister and policy head from 2012 to 2016.

“I sometimes can’t help feeling jealous when I see the allocations for national security and wonder what I could have achieved with that kind of resources when I was in office. But the truth of the matter is the surveillance technology is at such a level now that when you look at an area like Kingston — something like eight square miles — you really should be able to survey that area using cameras, drones, etc, every square foot of public space. As a man steps out of his yard you should be able to see him moving from one street to another — control the space of it.

“It is a tight space, and the police should be able to respond fast. You have something called ShotSpotter technology which is an acoustic system that can identify firearm shots and geo-locate them and send an alert to the police.

“There is a whole heap of technology that is available. Even look at the drones in Ukraine, not like the predator drones that are used by the CIA [Central Intelligence Agency] and the military. I am talking the non-security, the normal domestic commercial drones that cost a few hundred dollars that have been adapted to help in surveillance and have played some critical roles in that war…that can be used by the police in their operations nationally to give them more domain awareness, give them less exposure to risk and more domain control.

“Technology also works in monitoring, tracking people using phones, social media… a lot of investigations now are cyber investigations. Whereas you used to have to go and track down people, find somebody who knows that person, you can do that so much more efficiently on social media … look who their links are, their friends are, their contacts, who they communicate with. This is where investigations are going. They should be more heavily reliant on cyber investigation than the man who takes his notebook and jots things down like in the olden days,” said Bunting.

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