Fri | Nov 16, 2018

INDECOM cites fatal police shootings skyrocketing

Published:Wednesday | March 14, 2018 | 12:00 AMCorey Robinson/ Staff Reporter
Terrence Williams (right), commissioner of INDECOM, during his quarterly report to the media at the agency's offices yesterday. Looking on is Hamish Campbell (left), assistant commissioner of INDECOM.

The Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) yesterday raised concerns about an increased number of fatal shootings by the security forces last year, as it continued its call for more accountability within the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF).

Assistant commissioner of INDECOM, Hamish Campbell, outlined that 168 of the 264 shooting incidents reported against the security forces last year involved persons who were fatally shot.

This, he said, represented an increase from 2016 when 111 of the 180 gun-related reports were for fatal shootings. In 2015, there were 169 shooting incidents, and of that number, 101 involved persons who were shot and killed by cops.

"The number of scenarios where more than one person is killed in shooting incidents is a significant marker of both the increase in fatalities and the nature of some of the shootings," said Campbell, citing a number of off-duty shootings and fatalities from planned police operations among other contributing factors.

"One measure of assessing police use of force and whether it may or may not be excessive is a distinction between those who are shot and injured and those who are killed," Campbell said. "In Jamaica's security forces, there are always significantly more people shot and killed than there are shot and injured; and it is for the JCF to reflect on those patterns."

He said that despite a controversial body-worn camera system that was implemented in at least four police divisions, the security forces have not used the technology to justify any of the fatal killings, including those that occurred in planned operations.

INDECOM said last year it received a total of 706 complaints against the JCF, 55 against correctional officers, four from police-military groups - and one involving members of the Jamaica Defence Force. More than 81 people shot and killed by the security forces since 2016 did not possess an illegal gun at the time of their deaths.