Cops fighting crime without bullet-proof vests

October 12, 2016
Police Commissioner Dr Carl Williams
Members of the security forces patrol sections of Montego Bay, St James during the flare up in violence last month. The policeman in the photo is not wearing a bullet-proof vest.
Members of the police force on foot patrol in downtown Kingston in September as part of an initiative to restore order to the market district.

A young police officer is calling on the Government to better equip lawmen to do to their jobs.

The constable, who spoke to THE STAR on condition of anonymity, said that several officers who recently graduated from the Jamaica Police Academy have not received bulletproof vests, helmets and holsters to carry firearms.

"Several batches in recent times have not received bulletproof vests. In fact, I know a few persons who have been in the force for nine years and still don't have a vest," the constable said.

Sergeant Raymond Wilson, chairman of the Police Federation, which represents rank and file members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), confirmed that many police officers have not been issued with ballistic vests and helmets, but told THE STAR that he was not in a position to say how widespread the problem is.

Commissioner of Police Dr Carl Williams also admitted that some officers are without proper gear.

"Some have them don't have. We have made orders for some, but I am not able to tell when they will have them," Commissioner Williams said about the bulletproof vests.

He also said that police officers are not being sent on operations with proper gear.

Meanwhile, the constable said that in addition to the shortage of bulletproof vests, there are several policemen who have had to operate without a Government-issued gun holster.

"In a batch of 500 persons, not one person was issued a holster. I bought the one that I have now," the constable said.

"If something should happen to the firearm that we are using, then they are going to ask us if the gun was being carried in a government [-issued] holster."

In the meantime, Dr Carl Williams said that criminals are masquerading as police officers and using police-like tactics to gain an advantage over their targets.

According to Commissioner Williams, the gunmen who murdered five persons in the dead of night along March Pen Road last Sunday, shouted "Police!" before they entered the premises.

"The witness said that they were wearing dark clothing and when they went to the premises they shouted 'Police!'" Commissioner Williams said.

"The criminals know that their targets will listen to them if they shout 'Police', and so they try to masquerade as police in order to get some advantage over their victims."

But while criminals may have adopted the vernacular of police, and sometimes even the clothing, Commissioner Williams said the culprits do not have the mannerism of the Force.

"A criminal will not wear the uniform the way that a police officer wears the uniform. You can look at someone who is not accustomed to the uniform and tell that he is not genuine. They do not have the mannerism of a police," Commissioner Williams said.

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