Kicking around a body camera
The families of two men killed by police within the past two years have greeted with scepticism news that the cops are one step closer to getting body cameras.
"This talk about body cameras, that's just political ... it's a football. They are only kicking that around," argued Michael Boyd, whose brother, 53-year-old Neville Boyd, was shot and killed by policemen at his home in Spanish Town, St Catherine, on June 15, 2013.
"That is not even an enforced thing in the United States. So in Jamaica, that is not going to come true in my lifetime. I am a very practical, conscious and conscientious person, and that won't come on stream in my lifetime. We are light years behind in terms of stuff that has to be done," added Boyd.
His brother, Neville, was reportedly returning home to Tredegar Park around 10 p.m. on the night of his death when he was stopped by members of a police party.
Alleged eyewitnesses claim Neville parked his vehicle and came out with his hands above his head but was still shot by the police in what the cops claimed was a shoot-out. His brother alleged that an autopsy revealed that he had been shot 11 times.
For the family, if members of that police team were outfitted with working body cameras, there would be no question now about the circumstances surrounding Neville's death.
It is a similar cry from Errington Shue, father of 25-year-old Kavorn, who was killed when members of a police party kicked in the door to his house on Jarrett Lane in eastern St Andrew and peppered him with bullets during a predawn operation in June 2012.
Kavorn's brother, Shane, sat cowering in an adjacent room listening as his brother was being shot.
"That (body camera) still nah go help. The police still a go do things and get away wid it. They can't be trusted," said the father, as he declared that he still rues the death of his most prized son.
"It may help in some situations, but even if them wear the cameras, you still have police ... who will cover up for them friend. So I don't know if that will work or not," added Shue.
The police have claimed that Kavorn was killed in a shoot-out after they were fired at by gunmen.
Shane told investigators from the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) that the cops burst into his brother's room and shot him repeatedly as he cried and asked them why he was being killed.
Shane alleged that the cops then fired several shots in a rear kitchen to corroborate their story of a shoot-out.
Now, the Shue family is hurting over the fact that there has been no ruling from INDECOM.
"Is two years the police kill the youth now and all now we can't hear nothing more about it or about the investigation," said the distraught father.
Neville's killing was also the subject of an INDECOM probe, and the family is disappointed in the time it is taking.
"What has happened with INDECOM is that the police tampered with the evidence on the scene before INDECOM got there," charged Boyd.
However, last Wednesday, Kahmile Reid, INDECOM's senior public relations officer, told The Sunday Gleaner that the investigation into the killing of Neville Boyd has been completed and the file passed to its legal department to determine whether any agent of the state is to be charged with that killing.
According to Reid, the investigation into Kavorn's death is also far advanced.
"There is just one aspect which we are working on in collaboration with the director of public prosecutions to have resolved," said Reid.
Last week, Minister of National Security Peter Bunting announced that the United States has committed $45.5 million towards the purchase of body cameras for the Jamaican police.
According to Bunting, Jamaica and the US have settled on the specifications for the cameras and the procurement process in already under way.
In January, Bunting had announced that the body-camera initiative would be rolled out by the end of this year.
Last week, he shied away from giving another deadline, adding that the matter was strictly in the hands of the United States and out of his control.
It is a matter that Horace Levy, member of the Peace Management Initiative and sociology lecturer, hopes will be expedited due to the seriousness of the implications.