Regional

'It doesn't help'

Security minister says deadly force does not solve crime

BY HORACE HINES
Observer West reporter

Thursday, June 20, 2019

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MONTEGO BAY, St James — NATIONAL Security Minister Dr Horace Chang has warned the police that the indiscriminate application of deadly force is an unacceptable practice, which furthermore does not curb crime.

“That method of security doesn't work! It doesn't help in the long run. Besides, it is against all the human rights issues. From a practical point of view, being totally pragmatic, it doesn't help in crime,” Dr Chang outlined.

In fact, the national security minister made reference to a period in the parish of St James during which he said some 45 alleged gunmen were cut down during confrontation with the police, yet the murder rate spiked over that time.

“But even by police removing 45 people from the streets, 45 dying in police shootings, the murder rate went further up,” he said.

The Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) reported a 35 per cent reduction in the number of persons killed by the police during the first quarter of this year, when compared to the same period last year.

Twenty-two people were killed by the police between January and March, down from 34 over the corresponding period in 2018.

Speaking at the Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency (PICA) Immigration Officers' annual general meeting in Montego Bay last week, Dr Chang stressed that “shooting down alleged criminals in the streets is not the solution”.

He argued that Government has recently developed Plan Secure Jamaica, a collaborative approach, involving the Jamaica Constabulary Force, the Jamaica Defence Force, Customs and PICA, among other agencies, to fight crime.

Chang argued that even as the Government is being bashed for not having a crime plan, “what is really needed is an anti-crime plan.”

“Everyday we get jumped on for not having a crime plan, but I say the Government has spent time, and we have put together Plan Secure Jamaica, which we may have to expound on some more, but it is technical, not everything can be put on the streets as you go out there. And it was done that way so we could have a comprehensive look and that anybody comes in government can look at it for the next 10 years literally, if they want to build out the infrastructure,” Chang explained.

The approach, he noted, is bearing fruits, because from feedback received by the Ministry of Security, the price of firearm in the illegal trade has shot up because of, to some extent, the alertness of Customs and the interception of contraband by the Coast Guard.

“We doing better because we know that gun price went up on the illegal market, and part of it, I strongly believe, is increased vigilance at Customs, which we have to improve, we still have a way to go,” Chang said.

He added: “We have been intercepting more illegal boats going out, we don't get the arms but we get the drugs. We are intercepting them and from the feedback we getting, the prices (are also) going up on the illegal market because we intercepting them. So the work is being done.”

Noting that the “Coast Guard, PICA and Custom are the first line of defence” in keeping our borders safe , Dr Chang argued that the work of PICA is not relegated to the issuing of passports and stamping immigration forms.

“This organisation (PICA), although basically seen as issuing passports and stamping immigration forms, carries a much heavier load in terms of the security of the country. They maintain an atmosphere where we can continue to experience continued growth and development,” the security minister pointed out.


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