JIS News

Public Defender, Earl Witter, has said that police killings could be reduced, if members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) had greater regard for the rules of engagement when attacked in the field.
Mr. Witter was speaking Friday (January 29) at the annual award ceremony for top performers at the Bureau of Special Investigation (BSI), in downtown Kingston.
Between July 1, 1999 and December 31, 2009, the BSI received 3,998 reports, involving 1,971 police killings. Two hundred and thirty one persons have been arrested in connection with some of these cases, with 92 being charged with murder.
Mr. Witter said that nobody expects that any member of the force will lay down their lives in the service of their country, with capricious disregard for their safety and the interests of their family.
“But it seems to me, there ought to be a more determined effort in executing the law, and in enforcing the law to have greater regard for the protection of the right to life, which the Constitution guarantees and which law enforcers, in particular, are required to secure,” he continued.
The Public Defender said the number of killings was also placing additional pressures on his office, which investigates infringements on the rights of citizens by the state. He noted that in 2008 his office investigated 34 police killings, and 59 in 2009.
However, Mr. Witter praised the work of the BSI in investigating cases of police shootings, describing the Bureau as the “Constabulary’s finest.”
Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Paula Llewellyn, congratulated the BSI for its commitment to law enforcement. In addition, Miss Llewellyn dismissed criticisms that members of the police force were not able to impartially investigate their colleagues.
“I have been privileged to have prosecuted matters (in which) police officers are charged, matters which have been prepared by police officers, and those investigations have been first class. So, I like to use the age old tenet that I have been taught, that instead of making sweeping generalisations that some cynics like to make, I take each case on its own particular merits,” she explained.
Friday’s function honoured the work of members of the BSI, with plaques and cash awards to the top performing groups and to the top individual performers.
Detective Sergeant Derrick Campbell was named as the top performer, after producing 45 files for review by the DPP’s and the Commissioner’s offices.