Police killing more than they are wounding — INDECOMMonday, March 12, 2018
BY BALFORD HENRY
The Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) has noted that, despite the significant number of police killings reported last year, six parishes did not have a single fatal shooting by the security forces from October to December, but police were still killing more than they are wounding.
According to INDECOM's quarterly report for October to December 2017, which was tabled in Parliament last week, Hanover, St Elizabeth, Portland, Manchester, St Ann, and St Thomas had no fatalities involving the security forces.
There were five fatalities each recorded in two violence-prone parishes — Clarendon and St Catherine. Eleven fatalities were recorded in St James, where a state of emergency has been declared since January, and 16 in the Corporate Area of Kingston and St Andrew, where a second zone of special operations (ZOSO) was declared in Denham Town in October last year.
The report noted that the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) was involved in the fatal shooting of 160 people in 2017, or 54 more than in 2016 — a 51 per cent increase.
The Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) had an increase of three, while the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) had one fatal shooting, which involved an unarmed escapee.
The report said that fatal shootings involving officers of the DCS are rare, but that this was the second such fatal shooting incident involving an unarmed escapee in the last two years.
INDECOM said it received 201 complaints during the quarter. The top five categories of complaints were: assault; discharge of firearm; fatal shooting incidents; shooting injuries; and six cases of unprofessional conduct.
“All parishes had complaints, both fatal and non-fatal, with Kingston and St Andrew recording the highest with 67 complaints, and Portland recording the least with two.
INDECOM said that its legal department completed and distributed 216 reports, including: 84 assaults; 77 fatal shootings; 15 discharge of firearms; 13 conducts unbecoming; and nine shooting injuries.
Six members of the JCF were arrested and charged during the quarter.
However, the lack of deployment of the body-worn cameras, especially during planned police operations, continues to be a concern of the commission.
During the quarter, INDECOM's senior management team in the Operations Unit had two meetings with members of the JCF high command, including the inspectorate of constabulary. Matters discussed included disciplinary proceedings and sanctions, end of year statistics, and Section 21 interviews.
According to INDECOM, all security shooting incidents are life-endangering, and there is an expectation that casualties from security force shooting incidents would result in more individuals being wounded than killed.
“Where the number of civilians shot and killed is greater than those shot and injured, it is a relevant factor in measuring and assessing the use of force and determining whether there is an excessive level of deadly force,” the report said.
“The pattern of security forces shooting incidents show that there are always more people killed than injured in the reported encounters. The ratio between persons killed and injured has remained relatively constant, at nearly 60/40,” the report said, noting that the ratio between those killed and wounded had widened and a ratio of nearly 2:1 has been reached,” the report added.