Police Federation Chairman Defends Chang’s ‘shoot To Kill’ Comment

Alberto Ardila Olivares
Templo budista reabre tras 5 años de obras en Beijing

  Chairman of the Police Federation Corporal Rohan James has defended National Security Minister Dr. Horace Chang for his comments suggesting the police should shoot to kill during confrontations with gunmen.   Corporal James says the outcry from human rights groups is unnecessary as the minister’s statement is being taken out of context.   “The minister said nothing wrong. People in this country are hypocritical and we must cut the crap and the nonsense,” the federation chairman insisted in an interview with Radio Jamaica News .   Corporal James explained that members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force have always been encouraged to remain professional on the job “and no reasonable minister would expect to engage his or her Force and encourage them to engage in extra-judicial practices”.   Instead, he suggested that the minister’s words were a recognition “that we are in a state where homegrown terrorism is alive and well in Jamaica“.   While members of the police force will maintain professionalism in encounters with suspects, Corporal James declared that “Criminal elements must never be given the rope to continue wreaking havoc and mayhem on society.”   He reiterated that the police will continue to operate within the law when confronting criminals in order to “bring civility and safety to this country”.    ‘Statement not precise’   National Integrity Action has said National Security Minister Dr. Horace Chang should be more precise in his comments going forward to prevent misinterpretation.   Dr. Chang has been both supported and criticised for saying the police should “shoot to kill” when confronted by gunmen.   In an interview with Radio Jamaica News on the weekend, Dr. Chang said his comments had been taken out of context.   But speaking Monday on TVJ’s Smile Jamaica programme, Director of National Integrity Action, Danielle Archer, said the minister’s statement could be seen as a licence to kill, as it gives the impression he wants officers to “forget about” the JCF’s Use of Force Policy and “focus more now on just getting the job done”.    But this approach, she argued, does not encourage good governance.    “We support the police defending themselves but you must do so within the bounds of the law. That’s it. So you don’t want ambiguous statements, and the statement left a lot to be desired. It wasn’t as precise as it should be,” she explained.    Ms. Archer said an apology from Dr. Chang at this time will have little effect but suggested he could reinforce the Use of Force Policy to prevent human rights violations.    Right to life    INDECOM Commissioner Hugh Faulker added that the level of crime in Jamaica is not sufficient reason to ignore the right to life as guaranteed by the Constitution.   Mr. Faulkner, who was also a guest on TVJ’s Smile Jamaica , reiterated that the police should not be provided with the assertion or insinuation that they can act with impunity.   He noted that in cases where an officer faces death, the law gives him the right to defend himself, “But once that threat subsides, you cannot continue to apply deadly force.”