Policemen can't shoot criminals arbitrarily
Stabroek News
January 14, 2002

Dear Editor,

Like Mr Mubarak Kazan whose letter appeared in the issue of the Daily Chronicle for the 10.01.02 beneath the caption "What about the victims and their families," I too am often most distressed when I contemplate the bleak future prospects of those whose relatives have been victims of criminal activity.

Like most persons who are emotionally distressed by the pressure exerted upon us by the prevalence of crime, Mr Kazan misperceives the debate as being about the right of the police to shoot criminals. That is not the issue at all.

Once the circumstances are in accordance with the prescribed rules of procedure, the police are empowered to shoot persons who endanger their lives, attempts to flee custody or through some other manner of conduct, pose a grave and imminent danger to others.

The controversy relates to the manner in which the police have been interpreting and applying the rules of procedure which should govern their recourse to such extreme sanctions.

It must be borne in mind that the police are no angels, they are cut from the same social fabric as the 'criminals' and are subject to the same flaws of character and propensity for evil as we all are. Training and discipline effect no change in the basic psychological profile.

There is therefore no rational foundation upon which society can base the grant of carte blanche to the police, and their operations must be conducted within the parameters of the guidelines which are set, subject to deep and careful oversight, lest we as citizens all become victims of another manifestation of criminality.

The killing of an individual, posthumously branding him as a suspect, a known criminal or a wanted person, does not solve crimes. It does not guarantee a reduction of the number of active criminals in circulation, neither does it effect a reduction in the level of criminal activity evident in the society.

So, Mr Kazan, sad to say, until the grace of divine intervention brings about the miraculous conversions of men's minds, we will have no option but to empathise with those who suffer as a result of crime. Included also, should be the relations of those who are shot by the police. Very, very often, Sir, they too were mere bystanders as the tragedies of life swept over them.

Yours faithfully,

CRB Edwards