THE United States Government has pledged to provide the Ministry of National Security with non-lethal weapons to assist the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) in its efforts to reduce the number of police-related fatalities.
The move comes just a week after Minister of National Security Peter Bunting said he would be looking to develop the necessary policy on the use of non-lethal weapons for the security forces.
US Ambassador to Jamaica, Pamela Bridgewater, said starting later this year, the US government will provide the ministry with batons, handcuffs, pepper sprays and equipment belts for approximately 6,500 frontline officers attached to the JCF. She said the donations would be made over the course of three years.
The ambassador made the announcement Wednesday during the handing over of some 20 vehicles, 500 ballistic vests and 500 tactical uniforms, worth about $64 million, for members of the JCF at the Office of the Commissioner of Police, Old Hope Road, St Andrew.
Bridgewater said the non-lethal weapons are to assist the JCF in its aim to use less deadly force and equipment in the fight against crime. “To accompany this equipment for non-lethal use, the embassy will work with the JCF to provide extensive training on how to use the equipment, and how and when to apply that equipment under the JCF’s Application of Force Policy,” she stated.
In his remarks, Bunting lauded the US government for its assistance and quick response to the need he recently expressed.
“One of the challenges we’ve had, and one that we’re making some head way on, is reducing injuries and fatalities arising out of confrontations or arrests,” he remarked.
Commissioner of Police Owen Ellington said the JCF’s non-lethal training support programme has been an initiative of the force for a number of years, but it is hoped that the project will be intensified over the upcoming months.