Regional

No to disorder!

... police to get tough in Spalding, army called in to assist after shooting incident last Tuesday

Monday, February 11, 2019

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MANDEVILLE, Manchester — Head of the Manchester Police Division, Superintendent Wayne Cameron says he will be taking steps to deal with what he called “significant public order issues” in Spalding, located on the border of north-western Clarendon and north-eastern Manchester.

Cameron's comment at a Manchester Chamber of Commerce meeting at Golf View Hotel in Mandeville late Thursday followed last Tuesday's alarming incident in Spalding, which left a bus driver seriously injured after being shot by a policeman.

Widely circulated video footage captured on cell-phones showed the bus driver violently assaulting a policeman before he was shot.

The incident, which is being investigated by the Independent Commission of Investigations led to mayhem in the town with Jamaica Defence Force soldiers having to be called in to help police restore order.

A police service vehicle was damaged — including its windows shattered by someone hurling a large stone — and business operators were forced to close their doors.

Cameron told Manchester's business leaders that the incident reflected a culture of disorder that had taken hold among transport operators in Spalding.

“We have seen the general trend where people pride themselves in lawlessness and disorder in that town. No one wants to obey no-parking signs, no one wants to go into the transportation centre, people want to pick up passengers just about anywhere...,” the police chief said.

He spoke of cases where taxi operators in Spalding were observed “hand-breaking the car and spinning it around in the opposite direction”.

Among planned measures aimed at “bringing Spalding under control” would be the deployment of additional police personnel to the town, Cameron said.

“There are significant public order issues and so we will have to get stronger in Spalding,” he said.

Cameron said a man alleged to have thrown the large rock into the service vehicle was handed over to the police by residents on Thursday morning. Others involved in damaging the vehicle would also be charged he said.

The option of suing those involved in damaging government property was being contemplated, he said.

Cameron said charges, including assault, would be laid against the injured bus driver as soon as he is sufficiently recovered. The driver was said to be hospitalised in serious but stable condition up to late last week.

In cautioning against any repeat of the Spalding incident, Cameron noted that “policemen have been trained to defend themselves, and it is going to happen irrespective of who the attacker is...”

And flowing from the incident, president of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce, Garfield Green issued a statement on the weekend calling “on all business leaders and law-abiding citizens to identify and discourage indiscipline in our society”.

This, he said, should include “partnering with the police”.

Said Green:“We saw how businesses were adversely impacted by one man's action. We saw the destruction of property, the danger the public was faced with, and among other things, how much productive time was wasted.”

Green said the incident also highlighted the need for police to be equipped with “non-fatal weapons” to deal with disorder.

“Incidents like this remind us that our police officers need to be outfitted with the right gear to protect themselves and the public. Someone else (in the converging crowd) could have been shot... this is when non-fatal weapons are needed,” he said.

Also, said Green, to protect themselves, police need to wear body cameras. “We have seen how alleged eyewitnesses' version of the incident was widely different from what was shown on video,” the Manchester Chamber of Commerce president said.


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