Letters to the Editor

1,2,3,4... and you're pepper-sprayed

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Print this page Email A Friend!

Dear Editor,

The widely circulated video of a retired police officer being pepper-sprayed by a member of the Jamaica Constabulary Force has generated widespread discussion.

We should, however, be guided by the tests that are used to determine whether or not force was properly and appropriately used.

The first test is whether or not the officer was in danger. Clearly, in this case, the officer who used the pepper spray was not in danger.

The second test is whether the officer was defending someone else and/or himself from imminent danger which would justify a pre-emptive strike or from active danger meaning he is under immediate threat or someone is under immediate threat to whose defence he came. Again, it does not seem to be the case that the officer was defending himself or anyone else.

The third test is to ask what choice the officer had apart from using the pepper spray. The officer could have asked the motorist for another type of identification in the absence of his driver's licence. He could also ask for the documents for the vehicle and see if those could assist him in properly identifying the driver. He could give the driver time to present his driver's licence at a police station.

The fourth, and perhaps the most important test, is to ask the officer what he intended to achieve by pepper-spraying the citizen sitting in his car. And since he, in fact, pepper-sprayed the citizen, ask the officer what has been achieved by doing so.

If the conduct of the officer has failed these four tests, then the officer cannot justify what he has done.

In discussing the video making the rounds on social media and the news media, let us assess the conduct of the officer guided by the tests suggested herein.

Linton P Gordon

Ocho Rios, St Ann


Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at http://bit.ly/epaperlive




1. We welcome reader comments on the top stories of the day. Some comments may be republished on the website or in the newspaper � email addresses will not be published.

2. Please understand that comments are moderated and it is not always possible to publish all that have been submitted. We will, however, try to publish comments that are representative of all received.

3. We ask that comments are civil and free of libellous or hateful material. Also please stick to the topic under discussion.

4. Please do not write in block capitals since this makes your comment hard to read.

5. Please don't use the comments to advertise. However, our advertising department can be more than accommodating if emailed: advertising@jamaicaobserver.com.

6. If readers wish to report offensive comments, suggest a correction or share a story then please email: community@jamaicaobserver.com.

7. Lastly, read our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy

comments powered by Disqus



Today's Cartoon

Click image to view full size editorial cartoon