INDECOM alarmed by increase in fatal police shootings
The Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) on Thursday said the entity was not fully convinced that the Police High Command are doing enough to properly address the issue of police fatal shootings following a damning report which was tabled in Parliament on Tuesday.
Fourteen policemen have been flagged in 112 shooting deaths over 11 years, 30 of which took place between July 1, 2020 and June 2021. According to a report, one of the cops has reportedly killed 20 persons in an 11-year span. The police oversight body also said it was concerned by the increase in reports of police fatal shootings, which has gone up by two per cent this year. The figures revealed that up to November 30, 126 persons have been killed by a police officer. Of note, no gun was recovered in 36 per cent of these cases.
INDECOM's Deputy Commissioner Hamish Campbell said the entity has, on several occasions, written to the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) with its concerns relating to the findings.
"It is being addressed, but this report seeks to raise further awareness because there's a considerable number of officers who fall within a framework which require greater addressing," said Campbell at a virtual press conference on Thursday. He added that the watchdog body acknowledged that the country was struggling with crime and violence, but stressed that the police must always be lawful when confronting these criminals.
"If only for their own health, welfare, because if all these shootings are legitimate, responsible and reasonable and proportionate, then that's an awful lot of stress on individuals to be so engaged and repeatedly put out on the front line to be so engaged, and it has its toll," he said.
Campbell said that there was nothing on the entity's records to suggest that the officer associated with the 20 fatal shootings had been suspended for any of the instances, but stressed that every officer who is involved in a fatal shooting is put on administrative leave for at least two weeks while INDECOM and the JCF investigate.
"But the great majority of them have returned to the JCF. But if a charge is looking very likely, we would discuss with the police on that and they would take a different approach," he said.
INDECOM's Commissioner, Hugh Faulkner, told THE WEEKEND STAR that his office was investigating at least 10 complaints of abuse by members of the security forces on citizens during the previous state of public emergency in November.