City Constabulary should be guided by police orders regarding when you may fire

Dear Editor,

According to media reports the police are presently investigating the shooting to death of Marlon Fredericks by a City Constabulary lance corporal. This fatal shooting took place on Sunday, January 14, 2018 at the Constabulary Outpost, Bourda and Regent Streets, Georgetown.

I am not au fait with all the facts surrounding the shooting. However, there are several unanswered questions about the use of force, including deadly force. When should a law enforcement officer use his firearm? I am not aware of the training the subordinate officer had in relation to the use of firearms and what are the guiding principles the City Constabulary has in place to direct their ranks about the fit and proper use of firearms. However, the police standard operational procedure as to ‘When You May Fire’ can be very instructive. Here it is:

“When you are attacked and you apprehend serious danger to your person and are unable to defend yourself by any other way. When property you are ordered to defend is attacked and you are unable to safeguard it by any other means. When an attack is made to rescue persons in lawful custody. When anyone is found committing or about to commit a felony e.g. murder, dangerous violence to person, robbery, burglary, shop breaking, store breaking, arson or larceny and does not desist after warning and cannot be deterred or arrested by any other means. To prevent a police station or police outpost from being overrun. When so ordered by a superior in rank.”

These binding principles have been with the police since 1969. They have been republished in the Police Force Orders several times yet they remained pristine.

The City Constabulary and the security services operating in Guyana should be guided by the police orders relating to when you may fire. It should be imbedded in the minds of all in order to prevent the reckless, careless, dangerous and deadly use of firearms.

Yours faithfully,
Clinton Conway
Assistant Commissioner of Police (Ret’d)