JFJ says body camera project cannot be cosmetic
The moved by the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) to equip some members with body cameras has been welcomed by human rights group Jamaicans For Justice (JFJ).
Commissioner of Police, Dr. Carl Williams on Thursday called the introduction of body-worn cameras “the start of a new chapter in police accountability in Jamaica.”
Reacting to the development, JFJ said that the wearing of body cameras, when combined with other measures such as unimpeded investigations by the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM), improved record-keeping, and reformed firearms authorization practices can significantly help in bringing an end to the legacy of questionable killings by the police.
JFJ said it expects a force-wide rollout of the cameras, with serious disciplinary penalties for any improper deactivation, obstruction, tampering, or alteration of the devices or their footage.
"Jamaica cannot afford another cosmetic pilot project. That would only postpone, yet again, a potentially impactful element of police reform that is seriously needed," JFJ said.
Through funding from the U.S. Embassy, 120 body-worn cameras will be deployed in an introductory phase to divisions in Kingston and St. Andrew, namely St. Andrew Central, St. Andrew South, Kingston East, Kingston Central, Motorized Patrol and Traffic.
Robert Montague, the minister of national security, said that the cameras will aid in significantly improving the trust between members of the Force and the public.
“This is a clear indication of the strong partnership between Jamaica and the U.S. and our shared commitment to fighting crime and building safer societies. Building trust between the Police and citizens they serve is of critical importance… without this trust policing would be ineffective and the drive to build a safer Jamaica would be doomed to fail. The use of body-worn cameras by members of the security forces has been proposed for sometime as one way of addressing this trust issue.”