Sat | May 25, 2019

Arm police with tasers

Published:Wednesday | November 14, 2018 | 12:08 AM



Does the Government really want to stem police abuse?

If I were a member of the Jamaica Constabulary Force for almost two decades and looking from within, I would probably conclude that the Government, past and present, does not care about stemming police use of excessive force - specifically force which leads to serious injuries or death.

Over the past 30 years (and even before that), there have been numerous cases of police using excessive force.

A simple way to solve or dramatically reduce the level of police killings or injuries arising from altercations is to arm law enforcers with tasers. These are less-lethal weapons, made to deliver electric current and thereby disrupting voluntary control of muscles, causing neuromuscular incapacitation.

The effect of a taser shock, when used correctly, is generally short-lived and rarely causes permanent injuries or death. These alternatives have been around for years and have been utilised by law enforcement officers in many countries.

With these options, a police officer need not get in a tussle with a suspect. The threat of an officer losing a limb or suffering physical injuries would be minimised. Also, the use of deadly force by the police would be greatly reduced and Jamaica would look better on the human rights watch lists.

Interestingly, I don't have to be a member of the JCF to see that successive ministers of national security have ranted for decades about the police being ill-equipped and under-resourced but none has taken these simple steps to solve relatively simple problems by giving the police simple tools like tasers.