Patria-Kaye Aarons | Praise to the good cop
The bizarre circumstances and varying versions of the truth surrounding the car chase, shooting, deaths and suspect escape in St Catherine have given me cause to pause.
What started out as a hero story of an off-duty police officer springing into action, has left us all confused and trying to piece together what really happened. Innocent bystander, good cop and bad cop have all become a muddied mess.
In all of this, laced with scandal and whispers, and the resultant trash talk about the men and women of the force, I spare a thought for the good police officer who this, and other stories like this, may affect.
The one who, in spite of everything they heard about the Jamaica Constabulary Force’s reputation and the conditions of work and remuneration, still went into Police College excited. Wanting to serve and protect, as is the mandate of the force.
Of the 11,000 men and women, the assumption is that most of them are good, well-intentioned people. I feel for that officer who truly is a man or woman of integrity. Who it pains their hearts when people make disparaging comments; hateful comments, carte blanche, against those in uniform. The narrative about the police is laced with words like corruption and the reputations of good police are sullied day by day. Imagine, if just by virtue of your profession, most won’t speak kindly to and about you. Painful.
It can’t be easy for those who have to work twice as hard to earn trust in communities. Who people don’t want to give information to that can help combat crime. Some police, I’m sure, feel they are fighting a losing battle. In spite of giving your all, and exposing yourself to harm, danger and insults, the change is incremental. It’s an often thankless job.
Too many police officers have to watch their backs against criminal elements who are out to get them; both inside and outside the force. They have to watch their backs against the enemy within. Who the State gives a gun, and a pay cheque every month. People expect the police to police themselves with vigilance. To take down the bad guys they work beside. Those who cause the force to get a bad name. Those guilty of all the crimes people accuse them of. But the State takes too long to catch them in the act, their skill outwits their colleagues and their rank intimidates the rest.
WHO TO TRUST
The struggle is real for the officer who knows a colleague or superior is doing wrong and doesn’t know if they should tell. Doesn’t know who to tell and still have their head or job in the morning. Like the rest of us, they don’t know who to trust.
I feel it for the officer who has to respond to the call of another raped little girl. With her mother wailing and asking who hurt her child. A question you can’t answer because people are afraid to tell the police what they know, because there’s complete mistrust of the organisation in the main owing of the actions of a few. How do you go home to your child knowing you couldn’t save someone else’s? Lest we forget, the police are parents, too. And they hurt.
I feel it for well-intentioned police who are good people, who want to do right by their country. Who make do with what they have, even though they are ill equipped by the State with the tools and training to do their jobs properly. Whose reputations are ruined and good work nullified by the ones who are the stars of the show. Criminal cops. It cannot be easy to have them as colleagues and still show up and stand tall in this here Jamaica. Press along.