Commissioner of Police, Gary Griffith, has noted the rightful concern related to the number of deadly Police shootings this year, amounting to 55 at this time. As has become customary, the Commissioner has advised that every such incident would be thoroughly investigated, both by the independent Police Complaints Authority as well as internally within the service. And, if it is found that any officer has abused their authority or committed a criminal act during any of these 55 deaths, they would be disciplined or face criminal charges.
In a statement dated Monday, the top CoP said he finds alarming however, the complete lack of balance as it pertains to Police Officers being shot at. The headlines always scream with emboldened fonts, on perceived injustices allegedly perpetrated by Police Officers, followed by miniscule coverage, if any, when Police Officers are shot at, almost never with a call for accountability by the criminal element.
CoP Griffith states, “In the most basic of circumstances, if there is an increase of criminal elements shooting at Police Officers, then it would be obvious that there would be an increase in Police Officers returning fire at those who are trying to kill officers. But this seems to be of little concern to some. At almost every Police shooting, there have been shots fired at officers prior to these same officers returning fire to protect their lives, officers have been hit, officers injured, Police vehicles riddled with shots, with spent shells found on the scene not belonging to Police Officers, but this seems to be of little concern to some.
He said “Is it that Police lives matter less than others? It is indeed interesting that Newsday releases a sensational headline of “55 gunned down” by the Law, but conveniently left out the fact that there have been 130 incidents this same year of Police Officers being shot at, which is over 35 more than last year, and amounts to an average of a police officer being shot at every three days this year.”
The CoP notes, this has not been made any easier with it now being legal for gangs to assemble, communicate and strategize to commit violent crime, or for those held with assault rifles to be given bail within hours of being charged. One can recall the type of ammunition seized by Police in the Western Division a few days ago. That is not just for simple crime, but an assembly of firepower that is used for war. The criminal elements have the type of weapons and firepower used in war. The Police are therefore engaged in a virtual war with criminal elements yet some seem disturbed when there are casualties of war, when Police shoot to defend themselves, by those who try to kill them.
Griffith said “If there is a concern of Police shootings, and rightly so, then the best avenue to greatly reduce this is for those who possess illegal firearms to drop their guns and stop trying to challenge Police Officers by aiming their weapons and shooting at them or law-abiding citizens, because these Police officers would be compelled to use equal force and return fire.
The Commissioner states, “I understand and appreciate the criminal elements would continue to use certain individuals and groups to put pressure on me as the CoP to draw a white flag and allow them to sink their tentacles deeper into our communities. However, I will continue to refuse to allow this to take place.”
Commissioner Griffith continued, “whilst as CoP, I cannot state that every police shooting was justified, which is why they would be thoroughly investigated, but likewise, one should note that of the 55 police killings this year, the majority of those who met their unfortunate death, had several criminal records, ranging from possession of illegal weapons, illegal drug possession, kidnapping, gang related involvement, sexual and violent offences, and assault to name a few.
The CoP is also aware that negative and controversial news is the predominant factor in this country, but it would be appreciated if some would also take note of the fact that murders have been reduced by over 25 % compared to the previous year, and every major crime has been reduced by 19 to 70 % this year, inclusive of –
41 % reduction in kidnapping
70 % reduction in kidnapping for ransom
31 % reduction for robbery
22 % reduction for house break-ins
24 % reduction for wounding and shootings
25 % reduction for sexual offences including rape
19 % reduction for larceny of motor vehicles
25 % reduction in road traffic fatalities
All amounting to an over 30% reduction in serious crime, with this being the highest drop in crime from one year to another in over 30 years, inclusive of 2011 when there was a State of Emergency in the country.
But unfortunately, this is seen as good news. And good news does not sell.