Imagining a Future Like Our Past – A Response to Crime in Antigua by Anthony Smith Jr.

I remember when it was common practice to leave your key under the mat, or even under a stone in your yard. No hassle, no fuss. Whoever came home first would simply get the key and open the door.     

I remember when we often left a window closest to the front door partially open. Whoever came home first would put their hand through the window in the direction of the door. They would simply turn the key that had been left in the lock and open.

The worst-case scenario was to leave the key with your neighbour.  We didn’t cut keys for everyone in the house. Wow! What a time that was.  Do you remember such a time?

I’m not a fan of the phrase “the good old days;” but if we are going to be honest, gone are those “good old days.”  

In those days, we were free.  Of course, we were not careless or ignorant to the possibility of crimes taking place. We were, indeed, careful, but not panicked. Certainly, we didn’t have to be in this constant state of military alert as if we were the police or security officer.

These massive steel security bars were not part of our reality. As a matter of fact, we were shocked to see them in other countries when we travelled.  But we now have to build large concrete walls for our properties and install high-tech security systems.

These are very expensive undertakings for the citizens of our beautiful Antigua and Barbuda and have caused us to become prisoners in our own homes.  Meanwhile, our political leaders live in luxury and safety at the expense of the citizenry, leaving us to fend for ourselves.  

How many “Breaking News” headlines must we read in the papers or watch on ABS-TV before this government gets serious about crime detection, prevention and solution? When will the government give the Police Force the necessary, sorely needed resources and training?

We may not have the resources of a Scotland Yard, but we can do better. “For de people sake,” we must do better. The surge in crime is too much for us.  It is too much for the homeowner, the businessperson, the little children and the elderly.

It is obvious that the ALP Parliamentarians are protected in their fancy mansions, isolated and insulated in their bubble.  But in the meantime, and until we get a government that cares about us, we, the citizens, must do the best we can.

And so, since we don’t have caring leadership in the present administration, let us come together.  Let us partner with the Police and other stakeholders.  This may involve community policing, neighbourhood watches, and other forms of people-organizing.  It may even mean pooling resources to employ a security patrol in our various villages.

All Saints West, I know you can benefit from something like this. We have been abandoned by this government. They have left us out in the cold, while at the same time hoarding all of the blankets.   

So let’s organize; let’s keep an eye out and maintain vigilance; but, more so, let us elect a more caring and compassionate government to see about our affairs.  A government that is more innovative and will partner with the Police to protect the people of this land.

We need a government that will invest in the development of the Police.  Such development goes beyond firearms and use of force. It is comprehensive and includes – but is not limited to – training in technology, psychology, statistics and trends, among other things.

Maybe then, we will all be able to say, “I remember when;” not only as something good from the past, but as a reality for generations going forward.