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Chang: Don’t blame the police, blame the gov’t

Published:Saturday | August 10, 2019 | 12:15 AMLivern Barrett/Senior Gleaner Writer
Dr Horace Chang
Dr Horace Chang

The use of guns by members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) to quell confrontations with citizens is the fault of successive governments that have failed to appropriately equip and train the police to handle such situations, National Security Minister Dr Horace Chang has asserted.

Lamenting that policymakers, over the years, have not provided the men and women of the JCF with the tools to handle hostile situations, Chang said: “We send them out … and all we give them is a 9 millimetre [firearm].”

He continued: “So when somebody come with a machete or some rocks, what you expect him to do? Him have no choice. If him run, them say him a coward, and if him stay and shoot somebody, them say him wicked and him bad.”

Said Chang: “That is not the fault of the police. It is the fault of successive administrations who have failed to equip the police appropriately and train them how to operate in those situations.”

But he said that this is about to change as he and the Andrew Holness administration are committed to ensuring that the men and women of the JCF are properly equipped at all times to carry out their duties.

“The commissioner [of police], I know, will do the required training and is providing the additional training across the island. I make the commitment as minister, and we have to make the commitment as a country to ensure that our police officers are properly equipped.”

Chang was speaking during the official opening of the reconstructed Shady Grove Police Station in Lluidas Vale, St Catherine. The two-storey concrete structure replaces the previous insect-infested wooden building.

Residents in rural St Catherine immediately embraced the new police building. “The other one was old. There was wasp nests all over and chi chi did start eat dung the board. It was not appropriate for a police station,” one resident, Jerome Perkings, told The Gleaner.

“We needed a police station like this … the place feel safer now and we are happy for it,” said another resident, Eric Brown.