Police have a right to be sick
THE EDITOR, Sir:
I find it incredulous and disheartening that the Honourable Marlene Malahoo Forte, QC, MP, JP, attorney general, in her wisdom is suggesting that rank-and-file members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) be prosecuted for being sick. She implied this through a Twitter post recently, seeking the public's opinion on what should be done to police who have, as she incorrectly terms it, taken industrial action. Police officers have a right to be sick, it is not a privilege.
As a member of the JCF while I try to eat healthy, exercise and get adequate rest my body still becomes worn, tired and stressed from the rigours of the execution of my duties. The bodies of police officers are not made of iron but blood, flesh, sweat and tears. As far as I know, Mrs Malahoo Forte is not medically trained to determine the extent to which the current rank-and-file members of the JCF are sick. Therefore, her ill-conceived intentions of prosecution are premature and invalid. Many of my colleagues are currently suffering from high levels of physical, emotional and economic distress.
Mrs Malahoo Forte's comments, whether it was her intention, come across as a serious and demotivating threat to members of the JCF who on a daily basis put our lives on the line to serve and protect the citizens of this country with passion, vigour, professionalism and fairness. As the 'foot soldiers' on the front line on a daily basis, my colleagues and I would want to be assured that the entire government is our partner in the fight against crime, and that they would do what is necessary to ensure our welfare needs are secured. As an independent nation, no longer under slavery, it is time for the government to liberate the public sector, to include all police officers, who are subdued by the shackles of political and economic bondage.
Moreover, I implore Mrs Malahoo Forte, rather than seeking to oppress the police, to press her colleagues, including the prime minister, to increase the meagre salaries of the rank-and-file members of the JCF. After all, it is intended to be a cheerful and merry season. The reality is that the Jamaican Government will never be able to truly pay us police officers the correct amount for the dangerous and stressful work that we do. However, the Government's current offer in the ongoing wage negotiations must be improved to show that they are making an effort to adequately compensate us.
United we stand, divided we fall. We await a favourable response from the Government while we recuperate from our illnesses.
Hardworking & Dedicated Police Officer