KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) — A group of Jamaican police officers is taking a course with U.S. trainers to practice ways of subduing people without permanently injuring or killing them, officials said Thursday.
Twenty-six officers with the Jamaica Constabulary Force are in the course, which focuses on the use of weaponry like batons and pepper spray to avoid lethal force. They are expected to return to their divisions and train others.
There was a demonstration for government, police and U.S. Embassy officials Thursday.
Afterward, National Security Minister Peter Bunting announced that the U.S. had provided some $2 million worth of batons, pepper spray, handcuffs and utility belts for Jamaican police.
Allegations of police killings have been chronic for many years in Jamaica, with rights groups charging that a culture of impunity resulted in too many officers having a shoot-first mentality. Residents of mostly poor neighborhoods regularly protest what they say are unjustified killings by lawmen.
An independent agency that investigates allegations of abuses by security forces recently announced that there has been a steady decline in police killings this year. At the end of October, there were 103 such killings, a 53 percent decrease from the same period last year.