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PM tells cops to use reasonable force to stop threats

PM tells cops to use reasonable force to stop threats


Police officers who are confronted in the line of duty must not run away, but use reasonable force to cause the source of the threat to back off.

During a media briefing on Tuesday, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves sought to reassure police officers that once they are doing their work reasonably, the Government will stand behind them.

“…To the police officers who are on the frontline, when you are confronted, or when you are face to face, or when you are involved in doing your job and you meet gunmen who want to do you harm, or you apprehend harm, or persons with implements of violence, you are not obliged to recite the Beatitudes,” said Gonsalves.

He added, “…and your first option is not flight; you are entitled to repel the source of the threat reasonably, and I add that important adverb, but that adverb, reasonably, is not to detain you from protecting yourself or the community.”

Gonsalves said a police officer who is involved in certain incidents will have the support of the Government, once that police officer is doing his work.

“If a police officer is doing his work, and acts reasonably, in other words he is not on a frolic of his own, that this Prime Minister and this Government, will use every lawful means to defend you….You can rely on the right-thinking people of this country, as represented by their Government to stand in your corner,” said the Prime Minister.

Gonsalves’ remarks came about one week after Leon “Buyaka” Samuel of New Montrose was shot and killed by police officers during the course of a burglary at the home of Cane Garden resident Anis Issa.

Reports are that the police entered Issa’s property, at which time Samuel attacked an officer with a crowbar and as a result, he was shot in the chest.

Another man, Kirk Williams of Sion Hill, was found at the scene and is said to have obeyed the officer’s instructions to surrender. He is remanded at Her Majesty’s Prisons (HMP) on a burglary charge.

The Prime Minister said police officers should not fear when people say they should not have acted in a certain way, as there are procedures set up to determine guilt or innocence.

Gonsalves said the Government is strengthening the police force and he wants to give the assurance to the public that he takes the issue of citizens’ security very seriously.

“I am not going to speak about what is being done within the particular strategic framework,” said the Prime Minister, who noted that he is providing the tools for the police to be able to do their jobs.

“I will make sure that the police, and we have been making sure they have additional transport and facilities of one kind or the other,” noted Gonsalves, who revealed that he had just approved over 20 additional police officers to join the constabulary, while training of the officers already in the force continues.

Gonsalves’ remarks came less than four days after eight persons were wounded and one man killed by gunshot.