KINGSTON, Jamaica – Opposition Senator Damion Crawford says members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) should ignore comments made by Minister of National Security, Dr Horace Chang, which seems to encourage them to ensure that criminals who fire their weapons at the police do not survive.
Chang, who is also the deputy prime minister, has received both support and criticism for the controversial statements he made recently in Westmoreland.
He said: “They [the police] not out there shooting down people like that. There are fatal shootings because man shoot gun after dem. I not telling police not to fire back, and a say it right here in Westmoreland, I not sending no ambulance out there either”.
Chang added that ““Any time a man takes up a gun after a police officer, I expect Commissioner [Antony Anderson] to train them [so that] when him fire, he must not miss”.
Continuing, he said: “I don’t want him to come give any trouble to the hospital. I am not in that business. You go to hospital, it cost us $10 million to save him life. I am not into that. When criminal see police come, he must surrender”.
Crawford weighed in on the ongoing discussion on Friday as the Senate debated and passed the Firearms (Prohibition, Restriction and Regulation) Act 2022.
“I agree (with Chang) that if it is in defence of your life, whether as a citizen or a police, you do have the right to take another life and I would say the police should take the life if there’s no other alternative,” said Crawford.
“What I would warn the police about however, is not to take on this instruction that it cost too much (to treat) the injured, or not to call ambulance or send ambulance, because when INDECOM (Independent Commission of Investigation) come this government is not going to hire your lawyer,” he added.
“So I’m saying to these policemen, be careful how you are encouraged to act in certain ways that you alone will have to answer when time has come”.
Meanwhile, Crawford said he was in agreement with a fellow senator that some criminals should be designated enemies of the state.
“The facilitators of criminal activities, the encouragers and organisers of our young people in selling murder and carrying out murderous activities, it is my dream that we will differentiate them and call them enemies of the state,” he said.
Crawford said his fear was that some persons who are not enemies of the state would be treated as such because of mandatory minimum sentences in the new Act. He suggested that before a person is labeled an enemy of the state, the police should “go before a panel of five judges and convince them that John Brown is an enemy of the state and then treat John Brown accordingly”.
The Opposition senator then went on to tell the story of a goat farmer who he said was shot and left for dead but recovered. After going back into goat farming he decided to arm himself with an unlicensed gun as a means of protection. Crawford said the farmer was held by the police and charged with illegal possession of a firearm.
He said the police knew of his circumstance that he was robbed, shot and left for dead and was seeking to protect himself and his property. He argued that not all Jamaicans would qualify for a licensed firearm, especially by income. While accepting that he had committed a crime, Crawford argued that under the new Firearms act, the goat farmer, who he said was not an enemy of the state, would be sentenced to a mandatory minimum of 15 years for illegal possession of firearm.
Despite its concerns, the parliamentary Opposition supported the legislation which will take effect after it goes back to the House of Representatives where it was first passed on September 7 for the amendments to be approved. The Governor General will then give his assent after which it will be gazetted before taking effect.