A bane of Jamaica is the long time it usually takes to get anything done. Another is the seeming assumption by public officials that the declaration of policy is, of itself, its implementation - as we have been reminded by last Saturday's tragedy in Yallahs, St Thomas, in which a policeman shot dead a heavily pregnant woman and grievously injured her sister.
The whole episode seems so wantonly senseless, given that its trigger was nothing more than the dead woman's use of what the policeman deemed to be indecent language and her resisting his attempt to arrest her.
Those facts appear to be undisputed. So, beyond them we make no comment about the case that has caused anger and demonstrations, peacefully, in the southeastern Jamaican town.
The incident, and its aftermath, nonetheless, highlight a number of issues to do with policing in Jamaica that have been much debated, have had action recommended, but little done.
Among these, of course, is the exercise of the constabulary's use-of-force policy that requires officers to "exercise restraint" and to "act in proportion to the seriousness of the offence and the lawful objective to be achieved". It also requires the police to "minimise damage and injury".
But with Jamaica's tradition of a paramilitary constabulary, accustomed to behaving with jack-booted impunity, the old order withers slowly. It is taking time to build in the police force a new culture of accountability. Perhaps, unsurprisingly, there are still well over 200 police homicides in Jamaica annually - among the world's highest on a per-capita basis - many of which rights groups claim to be extrajudicial killings.
While the constabulary's transformation to a culture of restraint is, in some respects, understandably slow, it seems to this newspaper that the authorities have not done enough to give cops wider options when contemplating the use of force.
Equipping the police with non-lethal weapons is a case in point. We have talked long and much about it, but it has been pursued with no great energy.
In early 2008, during the tenure of Rear Admiral Hardley Lewin as police chief, equipping the police with non-lethal weapons for crowd control, and other uses, appeared settled policy. Admiral Lewin was not the first commissioner to announce such a plan. Yet, it appears the policeman involved in last week's incident perceived his service revolver was the only weapon of restraint available to him.
EXPAND USE OF NON-LETHAL WEAPONS
Further, during the post-incident demonstrations when assuring calm and building confidence would be expected to be the priority of the police, those on crowd-control duty were kitted out primarily with high-powered weapons. This is significant in the face of February's statement by Peter Bunting, the national security minister, of his intention of expand the use by the police of non-lethal weapons.
Another minister, another declaration?
This time, there may be some purchase - hopefully. The Americans, through their ambassador, Pamela Bridgewater, have promised equipment, over the next three years, to cover 6,500 personnel.
But we ought not to merely wait. If this is a priority for Mr Bunting, he can restructure his security budget.
More fundamentally, however, there has to be an acceleration of the retraining of police personnel, including the enhancement of support therapy for the men and women who operate in a highly stressful job and may be in danger of snapping.
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