Police, put on your body cam

File photo of a police officer. - Angelo Marcelle
File photo of a police officer. - Angelo Marcelle

THE EDITOR: I have noticed in the media a number of stories of relatives and friends of people killed in police-involved shooting claiming their loved ones were unarmed and also denying that the police were shot at.

My question is, were these relatives and friends actually there when the incident took place? Or are they simply making assumptions based on their own perception of or interaction with lawmen?

One of my friends reminded me recently of a situation in which a young man from my friend's neighbourhood, who came from a decent, prosperous middle-class family, was killed in a shootout with police.

My friend said there was no doubt that shortly before that incident, on the same day, the young man was involved with others in the commission of a crime that resulted in the death of security personnel. There was also no doubt that the young man had shot at police.

My friend said many people were stunned by this development since the young man came from a family who was decent, polite, respectful and mild-mannered. Prior to the incident, they never even remotely associated him with any criminal activity. Human beings never fail to disappoint us.

I am no forensic expert but, subject to correction, as far as I am aware, if you discharge a firearm, gunshot residue remains on your firing hand, and elsewhere on your person, for at least 72 hours, unless it is washed off, wiped off, or otherwise physically removed.

One would expect the relevant forensic authorities could be helpful in arriving at the truth of the matter despite what relatives and friends of people killed in police-involved shootings, may claim.

Another easy way to put to rest all of these he-say, she-say claims is simply to enforce the use of working, switched-on body cams to all police officers once out on active duty in the public space.

This will obviously protect police against allegations and also net the rogue officers who indeed may have been party to extrajudicial killings.

We do not want a situation whereby, in deference to public criticisms, a police officer hesitates to use his or her firearm when appropriate and thereby puts his or her life, and the lives of fellow officers, at risk.

I have noted some commentators trying to make heavy weather of the fact that there hasbeen an increase in the killing of criminals by police.

Given the increase in the rate of violent crimes, especially murders, I do not think the increase in fatal police-involved incidents should surprise us as there seems to be a vicious streak in the average criminal especially when cornered.

Some of them also possess military-grade weapons and therefore would feel a greater sense of invincibility.


St Augustine


"Police, put on your body cam"

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