Sat | Jan 19, 2019

Letter of the day: Cop who pulled trigger not alone to blame

Published:Monday | March 16, 2015 | 12:00 AM

The EDITOR, Sir:

This week, I, like many Jamaicans, viewed footage of a stand-off and subsequent shooting of a male in what looked like a dancehall in St Andrew. While this has disturbed most of who watched it, it's time to also lay blame where it's due.

The officer who fired the fatal round must be made to account for his actions, but not him alone. For years now, a couple of us with knowledge of law enforcement and the tools needed have urged this Government and the head of the police to invest in non-lethal implements for our police.

I have, through this medium, asked that tasers be given to Jamaican police personnel and to make them a mandatory tool of their accoutrements while out on patrol. There is also an incapacitant spray used in the United Kingdom called Parva, which renders its recipients incapable of operating as usual, due to its disorienting effects. This gives officers enough time to arrest, handcuff and take away people under detention.

Why have the powers that be not taken heed or even explored the benefits of these alternatives to firearms, which are seen as first resort by our security personnel?

I will not make the mistake of not accepting that the climates officers work in are treacherous, dangerous and tough. I will not, for a second, discount the many stories of them coming under sustained attacks from criminals with high-powered weapons. This is why I again ask that police officers be given additional and alternative sources of defence. The heads of both the police and governance must take responsibility for putting the police out to dry.

The poor officers are left with little option but to pull their weapons when there are hostile sentiments being thrown their way by members of a crowd, especially at night. What have the powers that be done to minimise the gun coming into play, depending on the situation? Jamaica needs oversight and more people being hauled before accounting committees to give reasons why incidents occurred the way they did and how to put it right for the next time around.

Niger Minott

United Kingdom