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INDECOM Calls for Increased Planning in Police Operations

Published:Tuesday | August 4, 2015 | 8:00 AM

The Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) has noted a decrease in security force-related fatalities in planned operations.

Addressing a Gleaner Editors' Forum, commissioner of INDECOM, Terrence Williams, along with other members of his team, pointed out that the decrease in security force-related fatalities is a good indication of changes in the approach to police operations.

"I want to applaud the past year, because fatalities from planned operations have fallen dramatically over the last 18 months. This year, so far, I think we have 10 or so fatalities from planned operations," he said.

According to the INDECOM quarterly report for the period January to March, there were 37 shootings resulting in 27 security forces related fatalities. Of the 27 fatalities, 24 were related to the Jamaica Constabulary Force, two to the Department of Correctional Services, and one to the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF).

The report noted that the 37 shooting incidents recorded for the period arose out of 10 planned operations and 27 unplanned or spontaneous incidents.

Meanwhile, assistant commissioner of INDECOM, Hamish Campbell, told The Gleaner that from January to July this year, there have been 57 shootings when compared to 81 over the same period in 2014 and 150 in 2013.

The quarterly report has made a call for greater use of planned operations given that the annual data indicate a significant decrease in fatalities resulting from these operations. The report, however, lamented the fact that there was an absence of recorded plans and/or tactical options being considered in all of the planned operations reported for the period.

That lament was echoed by members of the INDECOM team who shared insight on international best practices for police operations, while speaking at the Editors' Forum. They argued that planning operations to minimise loss of life should see the police making more use of non-lethal options to apprehend criminals.

"This is the way a professional police force is supposed to behave. You must organise and plan your operations to minimise loss of life as best as possible. Loss of your own forces life, even of the gunman or criminal that you are going for, you must organise yourself to minimise loss of life," said Williams.

The INDECOM commissioner went on to point out that fatalities in planned operations decrease even further when joint operations with the JDF are carried out.

"In Jamaica, we have a little paradox where the military in policing brings greater respect and when we did a study of planned operations, fatalities in planned operations where the JDF was actively involved in that period were almost zero ... . JDF cases that we do are very limited; Tivoli was, of course, a very big matter, but since then, JDF fatalities are very rare at INDECOM," he said.

andre.poyser@gleanerjm.com