Cops to engage dancehall community
Police Commissioner Major General Antony Anderson said that in an effort to combat crime and violence, the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) has plans to engage the dancehall community but added that the initiative has to make sense.
With much that has been made of dancehall and its impact on the crime rate, especially involving Jamaica's youth, questions have been raised about the role local entertainers play.
Anderson, speaking yesterday at the JCF's press briefing to update the nation on matters relating to crime and security, said that the music industry must analyse the value of entertainment and the actual values people are learning through their products to strike a balance.
"There is no question that their lyrics have had an impact," he said. "We see it with Molly, we see it with guns and the sort of things young people start to see as good. Now there is the entertainment value of some things and there are also questions about whether what you raise up as things to be exalted, things to be followed and what is the example we are setting and all of that. If those things are destructive to them [Jamaica's youth] and to the country, then obviously as a police force we cannot be in agreement or partner with that."
He said that prior to COVID-19, the JCF was on a path to engage members of the local music industry but that it became difficult "as we were diverted to other things."
"The value of music, the message of music, the value of our artistes in supporting what we do, is, we feel, significant. Musicians and persons in entertainment, and even persons in media have influence. They influence thought, they influence the way persons approach things and they influence values. So we have to look as responsible people, what values are we are putting forward. We see it as part of our responsibility, working with all groups and any groups of persons willing to make that change. But we also have to, at the same time, note if you are supporting gunmen with your lyrics then obviously our messaging is at cross-purposes," Anderson said.
He noted that there are dancehall artistes who are striking a balance with entertaining while encouraging youth to keep away from particular lifestyles.
"Going forward, we expect to do more of the engagement we have started to see if we can bring about the change," he said.
Veteran dancehall entertainer Mr Lexx, who has recently announced that he was leaving dancehall to focus on other talents, said that "it is not just dancehall and not just the police."
"I'm from the 90s generation, I won't comment on the current state of dancehall or the style of music and lyrics. We went through the same accusations with society (so) my actual POV [point of view] is, let's stop pointing fingers and do something," he told THE STAR. Mr Lexx said that while the police and dancehall can work together to better things, an across-the-board engagement is needed.
"We all see that the situation needs desperate fixing from the way our youths are reacting, but everybody needs to play their part including parents, politicians and even the communities on a whole, we all play a role," Mr Lexx said.