KINGSTON – With 31 people killed by the police just two months into 2017, the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) says it is worried that the country could record more than 200 such killings for the year.
According to statistics released yesterday by INDECOM during a press conference at its offices on Dumfries Road in Kingston, 19 people were shot and killed by the police in January, while another 12 were shot and killed in February.
Assistant INDECOM Commissioner Hamish Campbell said January’s fatalities represented a 55 per cent increase over last year, which saw only seven fatal shootings by the police.
Another 11 people, Campbell said, were also shot and injured during the first two months of the year.
“It’s a worrying increase; I find it disturbing, and if it is to continue unabated at this level, the new commissioner of police and the constabulary will be overseeing a fatality rate that has not been seen since 2013, where the figures reached over 200 fatalities,” Campbell said.
At the same time, he said it must be noted that 15 of the persons who were killed were not in possession of a firearm, while one or two of the others had other weapons.
The assistant commissioner also raised concern about the ongoing practice by the police to shoot at moving vehicles, which is against the Jamaica Constabulary Force’s policy.
“There have been three incidents in January where the vehicles, which had passed by the officer and going away, were shot at. This has resulted in three people being shot and injured, one of them a 13-year-year-old girl,” he said. “This is a serious matter and should be addressed,” Campbell said.
INDECOM statistics show that 111 people were shot and killed and a further 69 were shot and injured by the police in 2016. This represents a slight increase in fatal incidents, when compared to 2015, which had 101.
Meanwhile, INDECOM Commisioner Terrence Williams said, when compared over a three-year period, there was a decline in police killings.
“If you look at the three years period, 2011-2013, 687 persons were killed by police and military, but if you take the next three years period 2013-2016, 327 were killed in that period, so that is 53 per cent reduction when you compare the two three-year periods,” he said.