Mon | Sep 25, 2017

Police killings shoot up - INDECOM alarmed at 55% jump

Published:Tuesday | February 28, 2017 | 2:00 AMCorey Robinson
Terrence Williams (left), commissioner of the Independent Commission of Investigations, and Assistant Commissioner Hamish Campbell at a press conference at INDECOM’S head office on Dumfries Road yesterday.

The Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) expressed concern yesterday about a spike in the number of police fatal shootings reported since the start of the year.

In 58 days, at least 31 people have been shot dead by the security forces, and a further 11 shot and injured.

"This increase is 55 per cent over last year's fatalities so far. It is a worrying increase. We find it disturbing," stressed Hamish Campbell, assistant commissioner of INDECOM, during a press conference held at the state entity's New Kingston offices.

"If it were to continue unabated at this level, the new commissioner of police in the JCF would be overseeing a fatality rate which has not been seen since 2013 where the figures reached more than 200 fatalities per year," said Campbell, noting that January alone accounted for 19 fatal shootings and nine shooting injuries, the highest for any one month since January 2014.

 

NEW COMPLAINTS

 

So far in February, 12 people have been shot and killed by the security forces, and an additional two persons nursed wounds allegedly caused by lawmen's bullets. Twenty persons were shot and killed by the police for January and February last year.

Meanwhile, INDECOM said it received 822 new complaints from the public in 2016, and that there was an increase in the number of fatal shootings for that year, which saw 111 incidents. In 2015, a total of 101 persons were shot and killed by the security forces.

INDECOM said it also completed a total of 516 reports last year. No disciplinary action or criminal charges were recommended for 365 of the reports. Twenty police officers were arrested and charged.

"Fifteen of the people who were shot, eight of whom were killed, were not armed with a firearm at the time of their deaths," said Campbell, noting that the police continued to struggle with apprehending hostile mentally ill persons.

 

Cops blazing guns at moving vehicles a worrying trend

 

Hamish Campbell, assistant commissioner of the Independent Commission of Investigations, has highlighted a worrying trend of officers firing at moving vehicles.

"The JCF's own policy is very clear that officers will not fire at moving vehicles. There have been three incidents in January where vehicles which have passed the officers were shot at," he said.

"This has resulted in three people being shot and injured, one of them a 13-year-old girl and two other men. There is no evidence of weapons. No one reported weapons and no weapons were recovered. These breaches are unsustainable," said Campbell.

corey.robinson@gleanerjm.comcorey.robinson@gleanerjm.com