KINGSTON –– What could have been a stoic tribute from the security minister in honour of slain Police Constable Leighton Hanson at Portmore Seventh-day Adventist Church in St Catherine yesterday turned out to be an impassioned plea for Jamaican citizens to do more to fight crime.
“Jamaica, we need to do better!” Minister of National Security Robert Montague pleaded.
“Jamaica, we [cannot] only sit on our verandahs and criticise. It is time to get up, stand up and do something. It is time more people speak up and speak what you know
. . . . It is time to get up Jamaica; it is time to draw the line. It is time to stand up and be counted,” Montague continued.
He was visibly disturbed by the killing of the lawman, and later warned criminals not to point their guns at his cops.
Hanson, who was assigned to the St Andrew North Division, was disarmed and shot dead on April 28 by a suspect he was attempting to arrest on Constant Spring Road in St Andrew. The shooter was later cut down by a Jamaica Defence Force soldier who happened upon the scene.
“There are many who criticise the police force, but I don’t hear their voices in criticising criminal elements . . . but let me ask you this: what would you do without the police?” Montague said to thunderous applause from the congregation, the church crammed with members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF).
He argued that Government has taken bold steps in the fight against crime by putting in much-needed resources, the procurement of motor vehicles and ballistic vests as examples, but insisted that if citizens are not cooperative and do not speak up, “it will all come to naught”.
Also listed among those bold steps, the minister said, was the procurement of a shooting simulator.
“We are invested in the training of the police officers, and the United States Government has joined us and has recently given us a shooting simulator. We are training our police to shoot straighter, to shoot better. So dutty criminals, don’t point yuh gun at my police!” he charged, levelling a threat against criminals.
Members of the force spent the days following their colleague’s death grieving as news spread that he had died from a bullet to the head in his attempt to do his duty and stop a pillaging criminal.
Hanson, who served the JCF for eight years, was remembered by family members, colleagues and friends as a humble policeman with the “sweetest” personality, and hailed by Police Commissioner George Quallo — who, incidentally, was sworn in minutes before Hanson’s death — as a “courageous and true professional, a trusted associate and a dear friend”.
Also yesterday, Police Federation representative Corporal Arlene McBean chided some members of the public who she described as callous, for filming her colleague lying in a pool of blood in the vicinity of Merl Grove High School and sharing it on social media.
“It is now a common concept that whenever there is any incident or accident, the smartphones supersede all acts. It is used to capture graphic images instead of offering immediate assistance.
“To those of you who embrace this senseless concept you must desist from causing further pain to the family, [because] most times they are unaware and later suffer severe trauma. The device is a smartphone; use it smartly,” corporal McBean urged.
Hanson, who was interred at Meadowrest Memorial Gardens, leaves behind his parents, Washington and Regina Hanson, his wife Spanishar and children Alex and Orlando. He would have been 36 in June.