Millennium Post

Jamaica tastes success in curbing killings by police

Jamaica tastes success in curbing killings by police
Jamaican police have often been viewed with suspicion and fear, routinely accused of indiscriminately using their weapons and intentionally killing suspects as the island struggled with soaring violent crime.

Now, with overall violence ebbing, the Caribbean country is on track to have the fewest deaths at the hands of law enforcement in years, drawing cautious praise from human rights activists and making officers more welcome in some of Jamaica’s grittiest districts. The number of citizens killed by police is expected to reach just over 100 this year, far below the 258 slain last year by security forces. The annual total of police killings hasn’t been below 200 since 2004.

“Police always used to come with guns cocked, but more of them are calmer now and have a better attitude. It’s gotten to the point where I prefer seeing the police around here than not seeing them,’’ said Susan Ramsay, a mother of three in the rough east Kingston neighborhood of Rockfort. There seems to be a mix of reasons for the reduction, but perhaps the biggest is a new-found fear among officers of prosecution by an independent agency that investigates allegations against police.

The Independent Commission of Investigations was created in 2010 after security forces killed 70 civilians in Kingston during an operation to capture a fugitive gang leader. Police had disputed the agency’s authority, but last year the courts ruled it has the right to arrest and charge officers, previously the role of an internal police bureau and public prosecutors. 
AP

AP

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