The recent statement made by the Minister of National Security Dr Horace Chang has been severely criticised in many quarters, with individuals and groups requesting that the statement be retracted.
The rationale behind this request is rooted in sensationalism as the minister's quote has been taken completely out of context. What Dr Chang said is nothing short of the directive that some of us would give to our children, "If him lick yuh, lick him back." It's that simple, defend yourself!
As a decent law-abiding citizen of this country, I am in total agreement with the minister. What I understand him to be saying is: If you are fired upon, return fire. The police, I am sure, clearly understood the message. They are there to serve, protect, and reassure, but to whom will they be able to offer this service if they are dead. Plus, their families and relatives are expecting them to return home at the end of their tour of duty.
Those of us who are old enough will remember a similar statement made quite some years back by a prominent political figure who said, "Shoot first and ask questions later." This statement also drew the wrath of many then, and the crime situation was nowhere near what it is today. Gunmen back then did not have high-powered M16 rifles, M4s, AR15s, AK47s, and an arsenal of 9mm pistols in their possession. Now they have an active armoury with fully stocked artillery, and the cold-hearted platoon is out for blood.
This stance was repeated in 2013 by Westmoreland Mayor Bertel Moore, who encouraged the police to adopt a "shoot-first" policy to help curb the crime problem in that parish.
It is no secret that gun crimes and murders have been on the rise across the island. We no longer have one crime-free parish because the criminals have sought haven in every corner of the country and corrupted the entire island. The sleepy little towns and farming districts are fast disappearing as gang warfare is becoming rampant.
For those who believe that Dr Chang's utterance came out of desperation, maybe they are right, but desperate times call for desperate measures. The criminals who shoot at the police are not hoping to graze, maim, or miss. They are shooting to kill.
The human rights groups and others are guilty of disservice. Dr Chang's statement was made with a condition: "when a man fires a gun at the police...". By ignoring the co-condition that was affixed to the statement, they have totally changed the context, and it would appear as if the criminal's life is more worthy than the cop's.
I am of the strongest belief that the police must, at all cost, protect themselves and preserve their lives. Under these circumstances, it cannot be business as usual when innocent people are being mercilessly killed with impunity.