Police shootings increase - report
Glenroy Sinclair, Assignment Coordinator
The 2009 crime statistics have revealed that while there was a reduction in the number of guns and the amount of ammunition seized by the police, more people were arrested and killed.
According to the crime statistics, 18,987 persons were arrested last year. The previous year, the figure was 16,582.
The 24 investigators assigned to the Bureau of Special Investigation (BSI) had their hands full probing 241 fatal shootings by their colleagues. This represents an increase of 17 when compared with the 224 killed by the lawmen in 2008.
"There was an increase in police-criminal confrontations last year, but one of our main challenges was persons who claimed to have witnessed some of these shootings. They speak out publicly, but are reluctant to give us a statement," head of the BSI, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Granville Gause, told The Gleaner yesterday.
Stepping up probe
In an attempt to effectively investigate the volume of fatal shootings by the police, the senior officer said he would be beefing up his department with an additional 25 investigators. ACP Gause has also expressed concern about the high incidence of police shootings in some divisions.
Since the BSI's formation, at least 22 police personnel have been on the run, following investigations and rulings by the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, in connection with various shootings/murders in which they were implicated.
In its annual report last year, human rights watchdog group, Amnesty International, raised serious concerns about the number of persons killed by the police. At the time, the human-rights group said Jamaica was facing a public-security crisis, which was not being helped by the six crime bills currently before Parliament.
Fourteen months have elapsed since the tabling of the six crime bills by the Bruce Golding-led administration in Parliament, but to date, the legislative measures have not been debated. In December 2008, the joint select committee, which examined the bills, submitted its report to Parliament.
The crime statistics also revealed that robberies, shootings, break-ins and larceny soared last year. Break-ins increased from 2,449 to 3,780; robberies climbed from 2,660 to 3,004; shootings jumped from 1,528 to 1,667; and, larceny grew from 325 to 511.
The statistics further showed that there was a decrease in drive-by shootings and double murders.