Are police fearful of taking on thugs?
ITHE EDITOR, Sir: T IS not overkill to again visit the topic of violence. The killing of five persons in March Pen, St Catherine, on the weekend is clear indication that the criminals carrying out these acts are highly motivated, fearless, and believe they can beat the security forces in the battle they are waging.
The fatalities included a two-year-old, nineyear-old, a 14-year-old and two adults aged 22 and 24, respectively. The harsh reality of this incident is that none of these five persons who were killed were born before 1990. This, by itself, should frighten us into the reality that so many of our young persons are not being allowed to live to any substantive age before they are cut down.
If we look at another incident in St Ann, in deep rural community called Cockpit, we see similar characteristics of the gunmen involved. In this case, the gunmen went to the community and waited on the victim. When the victim drove up, they opened fire on the car. The victim and his girlfriend were in the car. The victim ran out of the car but was cut down by the gunman’s bullet. They went over him and pumped 22 bullets into him.
The gunmen were wearing knee pads and they appeared to have had an exhaustible amount of ammunition. After they committed these murderous acts, they casually walked from the community and some senior citizens waved to them, thinking they were normal visitors to the community. A characteristic of a good fighting force, be it army or police force, is that the members should possess the qualities that these gunmen are showing. So members of the police force and army should be highly motivated. They should be fearless. They should believe they can win. They should be well equipped, and they should be knowledgeable.
Is there a belief among these gunmen that the police force is in retreat? We cannot deny that several police officers have expressed concern about the possibility of being charged, suspended or placed on interdiction. When a policeman or woman is placed on interdiction, he is only paid one-third of his basic salary. He is not paid any allowances, and he usually finds that the one-third of the salary is not sufficient to pay his mortgage or sufficient to send his children to school.
We must be careful that we are not pursuing policies that are driving fear into the police officers, putting them on the retreat, while the gunmen feel a sense of boldness at the same time.
We have endless laws on our books to deal with crime. It is not more laws that are needed. It is a fearless, determined effort to get the better of young men who are fearlessly taking on the State.