Chang’s controversial ‘shoot to kill’


The police officers’ mantra is “to serve and protect”. According to a report done by Amnesty International, “Jamaican young men, especially those in marginalized and disenfranchised neighbourhoods, have been scarred by unlawful killings by the police”. Amnesty also noted that before the Independent Commission of Investigations, also called INDECOM, was established “only a handful of police officers were convicted of criminal wrongdoing”. They also noted that killings by police officers can be considered extrajudicial executions, which means killing someone because you have the power to do so.

“Shoot to kill when confronted by gunmen”, said the Minister of National Security Horace Chang at the Frome Police Station ground-breaking ceremony. Chang added, “when you come under attack you have to respond, if they (the police) miss they get killed”. This means that he expects the commissioner to train the police officers well. Since he made this comment, mixed reviews have been streaming in from the public. Chang says he sees no need to retract that statement.

A report from the INDECOM Quarterly shows that shooting incidents which involved police officers were at 168 people killed in 2017, 137 people in 2018, 86 people in 2019, 115 people in 2020 and 127 people in 2021. In comparing the number of people that were shot and injured versus those that were fatal, INDECOM says people are more likely to be killed than injured. The statistics show that in 2017, 86 people were injured, 84 people in 2018, 83 people in 2019, 92 people in 2020 and 68 people in 2021.

“Gunmen terrorise Jamaicans for years before something is done about it, or they end up living out their lives”, says a retired police officer. “Sometimes when they end up at court, because proof is lacking they are oftentimes released”, he further stated that these gunmen go back to society instilling fear into people and creating havoc. “Chang’s statement is coming from a place of desperation and last resort, as the gunmen become brutal so shall the police”, says the retired officer.

A report titled “Waiting in Vain: Unlawful Police Killings and Relatives’ Long Struggle for Justice” written five years ago by Amnesty International says there is a high chance of individual police officers or units that are sent out by governmental authorities to conduct extrajudicial executions.

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