Members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) are scheduled to start wearing body cameras when they are deployed to front-line duties by the end of 2015.
The United States has acquired nearly 400 body cameras that will be turned over to the Jamaican Government later this year, according to National Security Minister, Peter Bunting.
“They have gone through their procurement process, and the order has been placed, so it’s just a matter of delivery, training, and putting the infrastructure in place,” Bunting informed the media.
“My last discussion with them [US authorities] was that we would get those cameras this year,” he added.
Bunting’s latest disclosure comes more than 18 months after he first announced plans to have some members of the JCF fitted with body cameras.
The announcement was made while Bunting visited the Orange Villa community in downtown Kingston hours after popular cook shop operator Nakia Jackson was shot and killed by the police under controversial circumstances.
With the historic introduction of body cameras closer to reality, Public Defender Arlene Harrison Henry viewed it as a “win-win situation” for the police and citizens.
She stated the cameras have the potential to not solely preserve facts that may become important in helping understand how an incident took place, but would also force the police to operate more carefully.
“It increases transparency and accountability. People cannot act with impunity,” Harrison Henry recently told media reporters.
“It is a means that would make police officers be more on their Ps and Qs. It is a mechanism that will assist them [those not doing so] to operate within the rules of engagement,” she underscored.
Bunting indicated that based on discussions with the leadership of the JCF, the cameras would be worn by those police personnel who are likely to confront criminals.
“The people who would typically carry out raids like the Ops [operations] teams, Mobile Reserve, the operations support teams in the respective divisions, those would be the ones that would be targeted,” the security minister stated.
Last December, Bunting told The Gleaner that the US government was purchasing the cameras for US$400,000, or approximately J$45 million. He also said then that both countries had agreed on the specifications after a pilot project.
Addressing a post-Cabinet press conference in January last year, the national security minister said the introduction of body cameras was being done to encourage police personnel to act in accordance with the JCF’s professional standards, including guidelines governing the use of deadly force.
He mentioned it would also protect the police from unfair allegations.
In other news, Supreme Ventures Limited (SVL) made a contribution of $5 million towards the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) Building Project on July 28.
The project involves the building of 14,000 square feet of new office space to facilitate the relocation of staff who work at the JCF headquarters.
The donation was handed over during a ceremony held at the Office of the Commissioner of Police on Old Hope Road in Kingston.
In his remarks, Minister of National Security Peter Bunting welcomed the funds, noting that it will contribute to the construction of a more modern and professional space for the police service.
He pointed out that the project began in earnest in January this year after the new Commissioner of Police, Dr Carl Williams, outlined his plans to primarily use internal resources, namely the skills and expertise of the police force, to complete the new administrative building.
“I want to offer the appreciation of the Government, to Supreme Ventures for this timely contribution. One of the risks you take is when you start a project on faith and is not absolutely sure how you are going to fund it through to the finish. But people are often encouraged to support people who have started on their own and have demonstrated an initiative and this is what the JCF has demonstrated,” Bunting said.
The new administrative building will consist of four floors and will accommodate upwards of 70 members of staff.
It will house the Records Registry, Establishment Department and a number of other functional units.
Chairman of Supreme Ventures Limited, Paul Hoo, said that it is through partnerships with corporate entities that the JCF will efficiently carry out its duties of providing security islandwide and live up to its motto, “To Serve and Protect.”