The United States has responded positively to a proposal from National Security Minister Peter Bunting for the police to be equipped with more non-lethal weapons.
Less that one week ago, Bunting declared that he would be looking to develop the necessary policy on the use of non-lethal weapons for the security forces as part of efforts to reduce the incidents of police-linked fatalities.
But with no money allocated in the Budget to purchase these non-lethal weapons it appeared Bunting was whistling in the dark.
However, US ambassador to Jamaica, Pamela Bridgewater, provided a lifeline to Bunting yesterday with a welcome announcement.
"In order to support you, Minister, under the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative ... we will be providing equipment that will consist of batons, handcuffs, pepper spray and equipment belts for JCF (Jamaica Constabulary Force) front-line officers," said Bridgewater.
"Approximately 6,500 officers (will benefit) over the course of the next three years," added Bridgewater.
She said the JCF would begin to receive the equipment this year.
Assist with training
According to Bridgewater: "To complement this equipment for non-lethal use, the embassy will work with the JCF ... and we will provide extensive training ... on how to use the equipment and, just as importantly, how and when to use that equipment under the JCF's application of force policy."
The US ambassador to Jamaica was speaking during a function at the Office of the Police Commissioner yesterday where she handed over 20 vehicles, 500 climate appropriate ballistic vests and 500 tactical uniforms to the force.
The donation, valued at J$64 million, forms part of efforts by the US to assist the local police to improve their operational efficiency.