Livern Barrett, Gleaner Writer
The six instructors who were leading a training exercise that left a police constable dead and five others wounded at the Jamaica Police Academy on Wednesday night were yesterday ordered by the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) to each provide a written statement on what transpired "in short order".
Kahmile Reid, the senior public relations officer at INDECOM, said the six instructors were "interviewed", but noted that investigators wanted their account of the incident in writing.
In addition, Reid said arrangements were being made to collect statements from the other police personnel involved in the exercise and to have all the weapons used in the incident moved to the forensic laboratory for testing.
The six police personnel were shot after live ammunition mysteriously found its way into the training exercise, something Police Commissioner Owen Ellington said "on the face of it" appears to be a breach of the Jamaica Constabulary Force's standard operating procedures.
"The specific rule which I think was breached is the one which prohibits the taking of live ammunition to the Firearm and Tactical Training Village," Ellington told reporters during a press conference at his St Andrew offices.
But the commissioner went further, indicating that he was troubled by the absence of statements from those persons who were in charge of the training exercise.
"There are individuals who have positions of responsibility for the conduct of the training who have not yet accounted for what happened," said Ellington.
"This is raising doubt in my mind about any theory of an accident and it is causing me concern as to whether there is any attempt to cover up what occurred," he added.
Consequently, Ellington ordered the six instructors interdicted with immediate effect and suspended operations at the firearm training village "so that we can have a thorough and speedy investigation without any semblance of interference whatsoever".
Bsi asked to review
The commissioner noted that the facility has an "enviable track record of safety", but said the Bureau of Special Investigations has also been asked to conduct a complete review of the operations at the facility, including what happened on Wednesday night.
He said the review would examine all the standard operating procedures at the training village to determine if there were any weaknesses and recommend changes where necessary.
The police identified the slain constable as Ricardo McKenzie, who was attached to the Mobile Reserve Division.
Ellington said the five wounded police personnel are "out of danger", but noted that they would require extended treatment for their injuries. He said Force Chaplain Bishop Gary Welch provided counselling for the colleagues of the police personnel.
According to reports, the shooting occurred shortly after 10 p.m., near the end of a marathon training session that started shortly after 6 a.m.
But Ellington defended the training conditions, pointing out that the police train "24/7 in all conditions" and that endurance tests were part of the training.