Police officers in Jamaica are planting guns on unarmed suspects after shooting them, according to the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM).
Planting guns and other forms of evidence at scenes of crimes has in fact been a long-standing practice by rogue members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force to bolster weak cases, INDECOM said in its quarterly report, noting that it’s a troubling feature for which the JCF must take responsibility to eradicate.
“The repeated allegations of planting firearms is beyond anecdote. Reference can be made to a host of internal JCF reports and international papers, but equally the numerous injured civilians who claim never to have had a weapon when shot, and witnesses who were present when a person was shot and killed without a weapon,” said INDECOM in its report.
And the body went further.
“At a Coroner’s Inquest in 2012, a Government Ballistic Expert testified that the issue of previously submitted firearms being ‘recovered’ again was a well-known problem at the Forensic Laboratory.
“This feature, whereby the recovered firearm is discovered as having already been in police possession and submitted to the Forensic laboratory has been witnessed again as recently as 2018 and where witnesses allege ‘planting’,” the report stated.
Another recent fatal shooting investigation revealed that the firearm, purported to have been found with the dead man, was undermined by the fact that the same weapon was already recorded in police records as having been recovered elsewhere a month before.
The ballistic examination of a police MP5 weapon, held within the police armory, revealed that spent casings recovered from the scene of two alleged civilian murders matched the police weapon, the INDECOM report stated.
INDECOM has since made a recommendation that all recovered weapons and ammunition should be so safely secured and under police control, with sufficient audit trail and accountability, so as to prevent loss or misappropriation.
“The presence of such recovered weapons being discovered at secondary shooting scenes gives rise to significant suspicion of the police accounts provided,” INDECOM stated.
Additionally, the body said a lack of firearm security creates a significant danger that rogue officers could provide insecure weapons to the underworld.
INDECOM went further to point out that electronic record keeping is an essential element of modern policing.
“Its absence in the JCF provides an opportunity for evasion of effective accountability. Searching for police records, even with the considerable assistance of the Bureau of Special Investigations (BSI), fail to recover, in many instances, the pertinent documents, thus making proof very problematic.”