The shoot to kill debate

IN the 1970s the Minister of National Security Dudley Thompson made a statement that "no angels died at Green Bay".

This in relation to the background that five men had been killed by the military in a shoot-out.

He did not say it to provoke public outcry, although that happened, nor did he say it to appease any group furthering any agenda.

He said it because in his opinion it was true. He didn't care who liked it or didn't like it.

You see, this was an era when Caribbean men said what they felt– an era of arrogance and confidence.

The present minister of security, Dr Horace Chang, like Robert "Bobby" Montague who served before him, are similar in that regard. They say what is on their mind, very reminiscent of People's National Party (PNP) politicians of the 1970s and the former leader of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), Edward Seaga.

When Dr Chang made his "shoot to kill" comment he was expressing his opinion.

This may even be a precursor to a change in the use of force policy of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF).

He is free to express his views, and if he so desires, put the mechanism in place to change the use of force policy. He can, as he is the minister. He is elected. We have not elected any officer of INDECOM nor have we elected any member of Jamaicans for Justice, and we certainly have not elected any leader in the diaspora.

This is our democracy and we elect leaders to make decisions as they see fit.

So let's discuss what is so terrible about what Minister Chang has said?

There can be only one intention of a gunman who points a lethal barreled weapon at someone and fires it. That is to kill!

So why is it so terrible a thing to say that if someone is trying to kill you then you should "shoot to kill them".

The fact that this is even a discussion shows how disconnected everyone living above Cross Roads remain from the fight.

The Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) works with the police every day, many times a day. They openly have a policy that they "shoot to kill".

They don't hide it, they openly admit it.

So doesn't this seem absurd to anyone else but me that there is an outcry from groups and organisations in Jamaica about the minister's suggestion that police officers should shoot to kill?

So let me get this. You're quite okay with the soldiers who are part of the same party of military/police personnel on an operation shooting to kill when they are attacked alongside police they are working with. But the police officer who is in the same group, in the same engagement, being shot at by the same men, must not do so.

This must be the stupidest debate I have ever joined. And it is living proof that this country is not ready to fight a war.

We are very lucky that the poor in this country is so badly organised.

This debate is the equivalent of a group or groups of civil society in the United States taking umbrage of the criticism of the police officers who killed George Floyd. I hope you understand the comparison.

All off us in Jamaica are afraid of this group of 10,000 men. But realistically, only a relatively small percentage of this country is physically being harmed in any great way by this group of cowards.

I have never seen one group or person in the inner-city who is not a gang member or sympathiser be even remotely concerned about how excessive the police force is in combat with the gangs.

It is always some person in some coffee posse who lives in a separate world from the garrison communities or inner-city slums.

Have you ever considered how supportive and destructive it is when honest, law abiding Jamaicans appear to be concerned with the welfare of gang members.

There are many situations and circumstances in Jamaica that reflect a society where elitism exists.

This ranges from rental of properties to securing of jobs. This is unfortunate, but expected, and occurs in even communist countries.

However, I am baffled by what it is that continues to divide our country on issues regarding how we engage in combat with an enemy that is killing our children, our women and our weak.

The only explanation is that the gangs are not considered the enemy by various segments of uptown Jamaica, and of persons who live in other countries where our problems, as it relates to our security, don't seriously impact them.

I spoke earlier of the disorganisation of the poor rhat prevents them from being a voice to share their opinions through civic organisations.

This, however, also applies to the middle and upper class. The vast majority are not supportive of the views of the small groups that continue to strengthen the gangs with their constant opposition to the national security apparatus and its various forces.

Jamaicans who are not fighting the system need to step up and be more vocal.

You want funding from abroad, but you will sleep better at night knowing that you at least tried in your own little way to fight back or help us fight back.

In closing, the debate is a non-issue.

I have never been shot at, or know someone who has been under fire, who has the time or ability to shoot to disable, vs kill, when you are under fire.

You respond with an aim to stop the attacker from firing so you don't feel a hot piece of metal tearing through your body.

It happens quickly and your response is automatic, not tailored to a policy, but more in keeping with human behaviour.

Police officers should follow the use of force policy. It was created by persons after careful study. It says respond with force that is proportionate to the attack. So when members of the force are fired at by gunmen, they should fire back in keeping with their training.

Question: Is the attacker using deadly force?

If so, then the policy already accommodates shooting to kill.

You see why this debate is silly?

We are not arguing about the many police that lay maimed in the line of duty that need help.

That needs some of the funding that is being wasted protecting the rights of killers and rapists.


Jason Mckay

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