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LETTER OF THE DAY - We expect better from the police

Published:Monday | March 26, 2012 | 12:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

When an innocent girl is killed by the police, there is an outcry in the society, and rightfully so. But if the police had done exactly as they did, and happened to kill the 'right' people, there would instead have been praise and kudos to the police force.

And yet, don't we understand that we cannot have it both ways? Either they shoot to kill, and ask questions later, risking the possibility of being wrong, or we demand more - that they aim to arrest, shooting only self-defence, so that the courts, and not the police, give the final judgment.

Clearly the police must be frustrated when, after arresting known criminals, they see these same people manoeuvre their way through the courts and find their way back on to the streets. Our justice system is woefully inadequate. There is no denying the police have a difficult and stressful job, putting their lives on the line daily, never knowing when a gun will be turned in their direction.

But shooting with impunity simply cannot be the answer for a civilised society. We expect a great deal from our police. We expect them to be better than the criminals they stand against. We expect them to be restrained and controlled, and if a mistake is made, let it be rather that they lost a suspect than killed an innocent. It is a hard choice, but there is no other.

Fighting for citizens' rights

While I have no personal affiliation with the group Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ), I believe it must be the most misunderstood and maligned organisation in the country. It is a pity that Jamaica does not see that JFJ stands as their voice.

The JFJ is not about being against the police. It is about expecting the police to be better at being the police. They are not fighting for the criminal. They are fighting for citizens of Jamaica. Because in the heat of the moment when shots are being fired and persons are being killed, there are no questions asked, no defence, no explanations.

When the smoke clears and persons are already dead, it is too late to ask whether the person they have killed is a murderer, or if they have instead killed another Vanessa Kirkland.

THERESA GIVANS

trje@cwjamaica.com

Mandeville, Manchester