Commissioner of Police Owen Ellington issued new directives to cops on the streets regarding the use of lethal force. On the issuance of those directives we argued that there was no need for a new use of lethal force policy, because the existing policy is clear, unequivocal and is standard protocol in the western world. Of course Commissioner Ellington who never faced an armed criminal in his life is out on the ocean without a paddle on this ever so important policy.
That standard is simple, a police officer may discharge his/her weapon in defense of his life or that of another. Nothing that Ellington adds or take away from that universal protocol ,on Carolyn Gomes’ behalf will change the fact that cops have a right, every time and are justifiable every time that they have to discharge their weapons under the circumstances I laid out above.
Here are the directives from the Commissioner Of Police.
In a release obtained by OG.NR, Police Commissioner Owen Ellington has issued new guidelines to JCF members in this week’s force orders.
This new directive comes following the recent shooting death of 16-yr-old Vanessa Kirkland who was killed in controversial circumstances on Norman lane in Kingston earlier this week. The Commissioner says following recent discussions a review of Police procedures in the use of Police Force is be done in two weeks by a team lead by the Deputy Commissioner of Inspectors who is expected to make radical changes.
Protecting Human Rights and Human Dignity: A JCF Priority
Among our strategic priorities is to promote respect for and protection of human rights and human dignity. Recent revision of our Firearms and Use of Force Policy with accompanying training and sensitization efforts are the initiatives taken in pursuit of this priority. In the last five years, we have made considerable progress in the training and re-certification of our front-line members in the safe use and care of firearms. We have made changes to our weapons system, reflecting an imperative to reduce the risk of collateral injury when we are forced to engage criminal elements in built up areas.
This is most evident in the shift away from routine use of M16 Assault Rifles and Carbines in street level policing to the lighter and less lethal MP5 Sub-Machine Guns and Glock Pistols. The re-introduction of pepper spray with the stated intention to equip 6000 front-line personnel with a combination of less lethal options to the use of deadly force, are all part of a process being undertaken with the ultimate aim of building a response capability that can counter violence directed at front-line personnel by civilians, while at the same time, reduce or prevent injury and death of attackers as well as bystanders.
Recent Shootings and Fatalities
In recent weeks, the Jamaica Constabulary Force has faced much criticism for an abnormal increase in civilian fatalities arising from armed confrontation with criminal suspects in a very short period of time. Tough questions are being raised about the adequacy of our Use of Force Policy and the extent to which our frontline members subject their thoughts and actions to said Policy. Those who criticize and raise questions or concerns about the rate of police killings do so legitimately and identify with the growing number of citizens who have set higher standards of professionalism from their police service. We should not see our critics, on this matter of use of force, as adversaries, but rather, valued partners who may yet help us refine our techniques, thus enabling us to better achieve our strategic priority of protecting human rights and human dignity.
We are a Responsive Force
The Jamaica Constabulary Force must respond to the legitimate concerns and expectations of our citizens. The rate of police/criminal confrontations, with attendant injuries and fatalities is unacceptably high. Though we are seeing decline in such incidence over recent years, we are nowhere near the point where we can be comfortable with this record.
Key Policy Considerations
The Minister of National Security has requested that a comprehensive review of the Jamaica Constabulary Force Operating Procedures be conducted with a view to making adjustments where appropriate. Accordingly, at our last Executive Management Board Meeting on Monday, March 19, the senior leadership of the Force spent almost one hour discussing the most recent incidents of multiple casualties arising from police/criminal confrontations.
Arising from the discussions, a team led by the Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge Inspection, has been tasked to conduct an urgent review of our Use of Force Policy and
Training and make recommendation for radical improvement within two weeks. Among the changes under consideration and which the High Command has asked Senior Officers to continue the conversations with representative organizations and their juniors are:
- Standard of Care to be exercised when deadly force is to be used. The current view is that police officers’ first reaction when faced with danger is “officer safety”. We are seriously considering a policy position which demands that police officers exercise equal concern for “bystander safety”, extended to the attacker as they do for their own safety. That is to say our officers must take reasonable and safe steps to protect the lives of attackers and “possible bystander” as they do to protect their own lives. I suggest “possible bystanders” to make it clear that our duty of care extends to persons seen and unseen. Others who may be out of view being shielded by penetrable barriers such as fence, soft walls or panels of motor vehicles. Officers are called upon to seriously consider the consequences of shooting into crowds, buildings, through physical barriers or into motor vehicles. Let us all assume that there are innocent persons in those positions whose lives may be put at grave risk when we shoot and in such situations “do not shoot”. Our public’s expect a high standard of care from us because we are sworn to protect life. Our actions should convince our public’s that even in the face of danger; we have no desire to take life.
- Threat to Use of Deadly Force. The existing Force Policy insists that a police officer should not remove a handgun from its holster or train a rifle unless he is legally and morally prepared to take a life. The Policy position obviously reflects what must be the ultimate consequence of deploying deadly force and emphasizes the serious nature of the act of discharging a firearm in any place. We believe such strict rule denies the police officer the tactical option of “threatening the use of deadly force” while demanding that an attacker ceases an attack or drops a weapon. Consideration is being given to a policy to change allowing officers to:
- train a loaded weapon on an armed attacker and demand that
he drops a weapon and ceases an attack under threat of being shot;
- appeal to bystanders to move out of an arc of fire for their own safety;
- relate to the attacker the consequence of continuing an armed attack on any person while calling witnesses to the officer’s effort at diffusing a volatile situation;
- verbalize an assurance to an attacker that disarming is in both the officer’s and attacker’s own safety.
- Firing of Warning Shots. This practice is prohibited in our current policy. We gave much thought to revising this position along the lines of giving front-line officers the option of discharging a warning shot in a safe direction as an escalation of threat to use deadly force, but stopping short of directing force on a human target. This, if applied as a tactical option, will:
- forcefully bring home to armed suspects the grave danger to which they expose themselves and others if they continue an armed attack or the threat of attack of the police.
- enable an armed suspect to assess the inferiority of his fire power to that of the police, making him realize that continued attack or threats posed by him is futile and potentially fatal.
- cause bystanders to retreat from “hot zone” or take the necessary precaution to avoid injury, which may include signalling their location to the police and making an appeal for safe extraction.
- signal attempts by the police to counter a threat of violence without use of deadly force.
- Containment and Waiting Out Armed Suspect. This is already a requirement of the Firearms and Use of Force Policy but obviously not used as often as needed. Several incidents show that all opportunities of containment and diffusing armed stand-offs were not fully exploited. We will insist in the revised Policy that no forced and armed extraction of suspects from any premises, vehicle or barricaded area should be undertaken until the police have exhausted all options to effect an unarmed surrender and the suspects have given all opportunity to do so. The only exception is where the suspect poses imminent threat to the life of any person and delayed action from the police would worsen the situation.
Criminal Rights activist Carolyn Gomes:
- Tactical Retreat. Our police officers are cultured to pay the ultimate price rather than retreat from armed criminal attack. We are working on a set of procedures which could accommodate “tactical retreat” as an option to preserve human life without undermining the sense of pride and honor of front-line officers. We will begin the conversation with the idea that a tactical retreat does not signal abandonment of the cause………………………………………………………………………………………………
- END OF GUIDELINES:
- I ask all of you my readers, do update me on which Police department to your knowledge retreats from armed criminals as a strategy. This is mind blowing surrender to criminal elements in Jamaica by those tasked with enforcing the country’s laws. Jamaica is now seeing acts of terror synonymous to what is happening in sub-Saharan Africa.
- Just last week scores of heavily armed men burned several houses in one area, murdered some occupants and ordered others never to return. This is the Jamaica run by Carolyn Gomes of the criminal Rights group Jamaicans for Justice. This they do not want you to know, don’t buy the lies about Jamaica no problem.