A strong warning this week by Police Commissioner, Major General Antony Anderson, for motorists to desist from attempting to mow down police officers, has rehashed some sordid moments in the past where the island’s law enforcers have been left nursing injuries while on traffic duties.
In fact, some officers have lost their lives to the very act that the commissioner has given notice for motorists to resist the dangerous practice.
In referring to such acts as attempts to “kill” a police officer, Anderson, while addressing a police press conference on Tuesday, used the scenario to hammer home the point about attempts by motorists to resist arrest.
Several videos have gone viral on social media over recent weeks which showed the police and motorists in heated exchanges, some of which became physical.
The commissioner has since put the country on notice that in the face of what he cited as attempts to interfere with the law enforcers’ efforts to bring order to the streets, the cops would not be deterred in conducting their lawful duties.
At that point, he implored motorists to resist the urge to mow down police officers.
“This idea that the police are stopping somebody and you are going to drive your car having (been) stopped, and drive your car away and hit down a police officer; as far as I am concerned, you’re attempting to kill the police officer and he can respond in a manner of stopping himself from being killed,” declared Anderson.
“So, when you’re being stopped, stop!” the commissioner insisted.
“I am not talking about somebody going at speeds and he can’t stop in time. I am talking about the person who is in a discussion with the police officer, the police officer is in front of the car, and they decide to drive and mow them down.
“That is not acceptable and the police officer or the police team that is there have to respond appropriately,” Anderson stated.
Over the years there have been such incidents where motorists have ignored the lawful commands of officers to stop, and have instead opted to mow down the cops on duty.
For example, on January 10, 2022 a police constable was hospitalised with a broken leg after he was mowed down by a motorcyclist in Santa Cruz, St Elizabeth.
The incident happened during an operation involving the police and personnel from the Transport Authority (TA) at about 11am near the Horizon Park Housing Scheme in Santa Cruz.
Then head of the St Elizabeth police, Superintendent Dwight Daley, said the cop and the TA personnel were conducting duties when the lawman was hit down by a motorcycle.
The cop was admitted to the hospital for treatment for the broken leg.
At the time, the motorcyclist fled the scene, but a pillion was arrested.
Similarly, on January 23, 2020, a police constable was conducting duties at the intersection of Worthington Avenue and Trafalgar Road in New Kingston at approximately 7:45 am, when a driver who he signalled to stop, sped up and hit him (the cop), who fell to the ground, and the vehicle ran over his leg.
The cop underwent surgery and cops launched a manhunt for the driver of the black Toyota Wish motorcar that was subsequently found in the Mountain View Avenue area in St Andrew.
Six months later, the suspect, said to be a taxi operator, was held in St Elizabeth following his reported involvement in another hit-and-run incident.
Edward Rochester, 43, of Jarrett Lane, Kingston was charged days later with assault occasioning grevious bodily harm and dangerous driving relative to mowing down the lawman.
But not all cops were left nursing serious injuries during such incidents. At least two have lost their lives while on active duty over recent years.
File photo of a physical engagement between a policeman and a public passenger vehicle (PPV) operator on a public thoroughfare.
In Westmoreland, 21-year-old Police Constable Curtis Lewis died from injuries he sustained after being mowed down while on duty in the parish in July of 2015.
It was reported that Lewis and a colleague were on Bowens Road in Sheffield, Westmoreland, when they signalled a motorcyclist to stop. The motorcyclist disobeyed, mowing down the officer, whose leg was severed due to the impact, and it fell some distance away.
The motorcycle eventually crashed into an embankment, and both the driver and the pillion fled the scene.
However, the police later searched the area and found the motorcyclist, Roneil Murray, who was slapped with a charge of manslaughter.
Additionally, he was charged with having no insurance for the motorcycle, no fitness, wearing no helmet, having no rear view mirror, no registration plate, operating an unlicenced moto bike; operating contrary to the terms of his driver’s licence; failing to stop at an accident, and conveying a pillion.
The status of that case is now unknown.
A year later, the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) was again in mourning, as another policeman died after being hit by a motor vehicle on the nation’s road.
Inspector Mark Gibbs, who was a sub-officer in charge of the Clarke’s Town Police Station in Trelawny, was conducting traffic duties along the Clarke’s Town main road when tragedy struck on August 19, 2016.
Gibbs had reportedly signalled the driver of a motorcar to stop, but the driver disobeyed and mowed down the inspector on the side of the roadway before speeding away. Gibbs later succumbed to his injuries.
In reacting to Gibbs’ death at the time, Prime Minister Andrew Holness called for the police to use all their investigative powers to bring the person responsible to justice.
Holness also encouraged the members of the JCF, especially those assigned to the Traffic Division, to remain resolute in the pursuit of their duties.
He said at the time that the loss of any life, particularly that of a police officer carrying out his duty, is not only sad for the JCF, but also for the citizens who depend on them to serve and protect the nation.
A day after that directive, Andre Brown, the driver of the car that hit down Gibbs, turned himself over to the police. He was subsequently charged with manslaughter, failing to stop at an accident, and failing to report an accident.
Gibbs’s death came a week after Police Constable Mark Rose died from injuries he sustained when he was the victim of a hit-and-run driver as he attempted to cross a roadway in Spanish Town St Catherine.
Rose, who was then assigned to the now disbanded Mobile Reserve Division of the JCF, was not on duty at the time he was hit.
The lawman was mowed down by a speeding burgundy van while crossing the road along Job Lane. Eyewitnesses said the incident occurred at about 10:30 am on Friday, August 12, 2016.
It is not clear if anyone was charged relative to that incident, as Rose succumbed to his injuries at the Spanish Town Hospital.
Police at the time theorised that the incident was deliberate, media reports said.
A year later, a police officer escaped serious injuries after being struck by a motor vehicle while on duty along the North South Highway. That incident occurred in April 2017.
Loop News reported at the time that the constable was conducting spot checks along the highway in the vicinity of the Linstead exit ramp, when he was hit by a car.
He reportedly suffered injuries to his head, face, arm and neck, and was rushed to the Linstead Hospital, where he was treated and released.
It is not clear if the driver who injured the cop was ever arrested and charged.