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Commish to hold sub officers responsible for unjust use of force

Jamaica Observer

Friday, September 07, 2012 | 7:31 AM    

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — Days after the fatal killing of Kayann Lamont and the shooting of her sister in Yallahs, St Thomas Police Commissioner Owen Ellington has warned that officers in charge of deploying cops in the streets will be held responsible for the actions of those under their supervision.

Speaking in this week's force orders Ellington said sub-officers or the senior person at the time of the incident have often submitted statements or reports that seek to remove responsibility from them, thereby leaving the errant member to stand alone.

"It has also been revealed that if proper procedures were followed by the supervisor some members would not have been issued with a particular weapon as in some instances the risk assessment would have warranted the issuance of a less lethal weapon. Against this background greater responsibility will be placed on the sub-officer or senior person responsible for briefing, debriefing, posting and or dispatching of personnel who may have conducted himself contrary to this and other policies of the JCF," Ellington said.

Lamont, who was eight months pregnant was being arrested for cursing bad words while telling an associate that she was robbed of money to purchase back to school supplies.

She was accosted by Corporal Dwight Smart who shot her twice in the head and shot and injured her sister Novia Lamont. A third sister escaped injury after taking evasive action. Smart was also restrained by a colleague before being taken into custody.

Smart has since been charged with murder, shooting with intent, illegal possession of a firearm and assault following a ruling by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Ellington warned that sub-officers on duty should:

  • Verify the nature of the duty to be performed and determine if the request should be honored with a lethal or non-lethal weapon. A proper risk assessment should be done at all times that a firearm is to be issued;
  • Ensure that all persons requesting firearm produce a Jamaica Constabulary Force Firearms Certification booklet which will be examined to verify weapons qualification; 
  • Ensure that person requesting firearm is equipped with a holster or be issued with one; and
  • Brief all persons armed with a firearm at the time of being dispatched on any assignment. 

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