Pepper Spraying Incident Shines Light On Shortcomings



By now every per­son and their moth­er have seen this unfor­tu­nate video. I was sur­prised at the esca­la­tion of this inci­dent, but I will be con­strained in what I say here as this inci­dent is fresh and still under inves­ti­ga­tion. In the inter­est of full dis­clo­sure, I know Parro Campbell, I worked along­side Parro Campbell, he is my friend. I trust­ed him with my life.
With that said, I will try my best to be objec­tive and treat Mister Campbell as every Jamaican cit­i­zen ought to be treat­ed when they are stopped by the police.
It is also impor­tant to remem­ber that we do not know what tran­spired before the young son of mis­ter Campbell start­ed rolling the cam­era. As such we should look at the demeanor of the offi­cer and the motorist, mis­ter Campbell.
There was no yelling going on by either actor and as we heard mis­ter Campbell’s son con­ced­ed, his dad had over­tak­en a line of vehi­cles, not nec­es­sar­i­ly an infrac­tion if it is done safe­ly and in a place where he had a clear line of vision, and is allowed to over­take.
Nevertheless, it clear­ly was enough to get mis­ter Campbell pulled over by the offi­cer.

Now, I am a for­mer police offi­cer long removed from enforc­ing the laws, so where I may mis­in­ter­pret the laws please do not be too harsh with the cussing.
If the offi­cer asked the motorist for his dri­ver’s license and the motorist says he does not have it on him. He should ask if the motorist has any oth­er form of iden­ti­fi­ca­tion by which he may be iden­ti­fied.
If the motorist does not, then he must pro­duce the reg­is­tra­tion and proof of insur­ance upon which the offi­cer would enquire whether the motorist is the reg­is­tered own­er of the vehi­cle. If the motorist answers in the affir­ma­tive then the offi­cer would then ask for his name and date of birth, and match it against the infor­ma­tion on the insur­ance and reg­is­tra­tion doc­u­ments. The offi­cer then goes ahead and write the citation/​s for which the motorist was ini­tial­ly pulled over.
It is impor­tant that as long as the motorist does not obstruct the offi­cer, by not sup­ply­ing the oth­er doc­u­ments, (a‑la, insur­ance cert., reg­is­tra­tion, etc) then the motorist has (5) days to pro­duce his dri­ver’s license to a police sta­tion of his con­ve­nience. Those are the dic­tates of the Road Traffic Act.

So let’s go back to the video, the offi­cer asked the motorist for his dri­ver’s license and was told the motorist does not have one on him.
There are sev­er­al things which went wrong as the inci­dent esca­lat­ed out of con­trol, but I will not lit­i­gate the video because I believe there is one stick­ing point here which negates every­thing else.
The offi­cer went from ask­ing for the motorist dri­vers license to threatening.……Arrest.
It seems to me that the motorist, a for­mer police offi­cer, knew that the offi­cer had erred and was humor­ing the uni­formed offi­cer because he knew that the offi­cer real­ly had no pow­er of arrest on the issue​.My per­son­al knowl­edge of the motorist tells me that in typ­i­cal fash­ion mis­ter Campbell would have jok­ing­ly showed the offi­cer the error of his ways giv­en time.
This brings me to the point I want to make. An offi­cer is most effec­tive, not when he is the most deter­mined, even though I respect a deter­mined offi­cer, he is most effec­tive when he is right on the law he is enforc­ing.
Since this inci­dent, I have read hun­dreds of com­ments and heard dozens of points of view from past and present mem­bers, I have come away even more con­vinced than before, that we are not train­ing our police in a way that is com­men­su­rate with the com­plex­i­ties of the times.
If the oth­er con­sta­ble on the scene knew the traf­fic law he should have pulled his col­league aside and walk him back from his imme­di­ate demand that the motorist exit his vehi­cle.
Obviously, he was­n’t up to speed on his pow­ers under the law either, or he did not have the esprit de corps to care about the pro­ceed­ings. He was basi­cal­ly a dis­in­ter­est­ed par­ty and that is equal­ly as dan­ger­ous as the igno­rance of the (RT Act) dis­played in that unfor­tu­nate video record­ing.
As we get clos­er to robot­ic cops enforc­ing traf­fic laws in the pow­er­ful indus­tri­al nations, it is imper­a­tive that we equip our human offi­cers so that they do not find them­selves in sit­u­a­tions like this one.
There will be a gazil­lion opin­ions on who did what, or what should have been done differently,(mine includ­ed), that’s okay, but at the end of it all, this mat­ter rests on the (RT Act), not on our opin­ions.
An offi­cer can­not go from request­ing a motorist’s dri­ver’s license to threat­en­ing arrest. More and more cit­i­zens are becom­ing more and more edu­cat­ed on the laws, they under­stand the pro­tec­tions they have under the laws, so the police officer*must* be ful­ly con­ver­sant of his pow­ers when he deals with the pub­lic.

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Since this Article was first pub­lished, addi­tion­al research have revealed that a new Road Traffic Act has been draft­ed to replace the old one.
The new Road Traffic Bill, which will repeal and replace the exist­ing 1938 Act, was passed in the House of Representatives on Tuesday (February 6 – 2018).
Offenses under the Bill include: dri­ving with­out required motor vehi­cle insur­ance cov­er­age ($20,000); dri­ving a motor vehi­cle with­out being the hold­er of a per­mit or driver’s licence ($40,000); fail­ure of dri­ver to obey traf­fic light ($24,000); loud nois­es with­in silence zones and fail­ure to wear a pro­tec­tive hel­met ($5,000); fail­ure to com­ply with traf­fic signs ($10,000); and fail­ure to stop at pedes­tri­an cross­ings ($12,000).
It is not ful­ly clear whether or not the new law is already in effect, although we have been informed that it isn’t.However we have been unable to inde­pen­dent­ly con­firm whether it is in fact in effect. If it is in effect, it does put the uni­formed offi­cer in a dif­fer­ent and bet­ter light.

Mike Beckles is a for­mer Jamaican police cor­po­ral, busi­ness own­er, avid researcher, and blog­ger. He is also a black achiev­er hon­oree, and pub­lish­er of the blog chatt​-​a​-box​.com. You may sub­scribe to his blogs free of charge.

2 thoughts on “Pepper Spraying Incident Shines Light On Shortcomings

  1. No, it doesn’t put the offi­cer in a bet­ter light. It said dri­ving with­out a per­mit or driver’s license $40,000. It didn’t say arrest. The offi­cer should have issued a traf­fic vio­la­tion tick­et. He’s still in the wrong.

    • The new (RT-Act) which will repeal and replace the Act of 1939 would have placed the offi­cer in a bet­ter light, as it removes the five-day off-ramp which pre­vi­ous­ly allowed a motorist time to pro­duce his/​her dri­vers’ license.
      The new Act would have removed cer­tain pro­to­cols which the offi­cer would be forced to fol­low before get­ting to an arrest.
      That new Act is not in effect so the old Act is still the law. This makes the offi­cer still bound by the pro­to­cols of the old act, which is to give the motorist time to pro­duce.

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