Newsmaker: Public comments on viral police-soldier traffic stop video Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

This week’s featured development as Newsmaker of the Week is the case of two Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) members who reportedly found themselves on the wrong side of the law after they were accused of disobeying two teams of police officers who signalled for them to stop on the Edward Seaga Highway.

Monday’s incident was caught on video by one of the police officers, who reprimanded the JDF officers for allegedly disobeying police’s instructions to stop twice on the highway. 

The video has subsequently gone viral on social media, with persons, including other soldiers and police officers, sharing their contrasting perspectives on the development. 

Some persons are arguing that the policeman should not have recorded the video, and could have given the JDF officers a warning instead of recording them.

Other persons contended that no one is above the law, hence, the police officer was correct in his stance to record the soldiers to send a public signal that law and order is relevant to all Jamaicans.

Reports surrounding the incident are that about 4:50 pm on Monday, the soldiers were travelling on the busy toll highway towards Kingston when they were signalled to stop by members of a police team.

The soldiers reportedly disobeyed and sped off.

The police said the soldiers were again signalled to stop by another team of officers, who were relatively close to where the first team of law enforcers were operating, and the military men again ignored the instructions.

Reports are that they were subsequently cornered as they attempted to pass through a tollbooth on the highway.

A member of the police team said the soldiers were charged and issued several tickets for disobeying the orders of the police.

In the video of the incident, the two seemingly young JDF officers could be seen walking around as they were being recorded by the lawman.

“Suh a video yah video me now squaddie?” asked one of the soldiers.

He further asked: “Suh, suh, how dah gunpoint ting deh guh now squaddie, ’cause mi inna mi uniform and yah point gun offa mi like mi a criminal? So mi nuh understand. How dat guh?” 

The policeman can then be heard asking as he videotaped the encounter: “Did an officer stop you down the road? A dat yuh fi answer me?”

One of the soldiers urged the policeman not to videotape him, to which the police officer dared him to try and take away his (the policeman’s) phone.

In continuing his reprimand of the soldiers, the policeman said: “Since yuh want to be treated like criminals, unuh inna unu uniform, police step out inna di road and stop unu and unu drive lef dem, and den a next set a police stop yuh and yuh drive lef dem…

“You should be ashamed of yourselves and… inna the Government uniform police stop yuh,” added the officer.

The video has been shared several times on social media website, Tiktok, and users have been sharing some rather interesting perspectives there.

“A because them (the soldiers) young why the squaddie (the policeman) a deal with them suh man. We know how the ting set a Jamaica enuh between soljie and squaddie,” a male Tiktok user who claimed he was a soldier, opined. 

“No sah, is a hype the police a look. How him a deal with the youth suh? This could be handled better. Nuh rate this,” said another man.

Shared a woman on the app: “As much as I have more respect for soldiers, they were wrong because they should have stopped and explained their actions, but the police, I think, overstepped his approach in dealing with the situation too.”

A male Tiktok user said the actions of the soldiers relative to disobeying the police will not be supported by the JDF.

“So soldiers, mi a tell yuh, yuh wrong,” the man insisted. 

In fact, he opined that the soldiers would probably be “locked up in the Red Fence (JDF’s jail at Up Park Camp in St Andrew) at some point” for their actions.

Still, the man shared that the situation could have been handled better by the policeman, instead of uploading a video to social media, embarrassing the soldiers in the process.

“But JDF and JCF (Jamaica Constabulary Force), Jamaica has bigger problem(s). I don’t think you two should be fighting against each other,” the man suggested. 

On Instagram, there were several viewpoints on the incident. 

A man who claimed to be a former JCF member came to the defence of the soldiers. 

“As an ex-cop, mi know when big man a big man and boy a boy. This police officer is no big man. Yuh (you) could simply charge the man dem without exposing dem. Now dem could lose dem work or go a Red Fence,” the man commented.

Said a female Instagrammer: “The police officer is so unprofessional for videotaping this encounter smh.” 

Added another woman: “Not saying the JDF persons were right, but mi affi ask,  why the JCF person hell bent on videoing the situation, but unuh nuh want to turn on bodycam when dealing with regular citizens and get very upset when the citizens of Jamaica videoing the JCF when they interact with the public?”

However, other persons contended that the soldiers’ actions were reprehensible.

“If they (JDF soldiers) were speeding they should be treated the same as any other civilian, duh. Uniform don’t make you above the law,” said a male Instagram user.

“Drive leave one set of police, I can understand. Drive away from two sets, dat’s guilty whether you’re in your uniform or not. Better you did stop and beg a ‘bly’. Ain’t no point being strong when you’re already wrong,” a woman wrote.

Commented a man: “They (the soldiers) should be ashamed of themselves! No respect for their uniform! Disgraceful.”