Thu | Jan 17, 2019

Letter of the Day | Temper macho culture in JCF

Published:Monday | July 23, 2018 | 12:00 AM


Last Friday, Jamaica lost a senior cop with 37 years of experience. He seemed to have joined the force not long after leaving school. He had given his life to the constabulary and to his country. He apparently committed suicide.

The reaction of the High Command was not unexpected: "We are mindful of the intense stressors of the job and the impact these can have on our members' personal lives and performance. We, therefore, implore our members to avail themselves of the mechanisms that the organisation has established to cater to their overall well-being, to include three main support systems - the Volunteer Pastors Programme, the Chaplaincy Unit and the Medical Services Branch."




We have heard it all before, and I suppose that we will hear it again. The High Command knows that this is a macho thing. Big men, as a rule, don't go to counsellors. It is just not the manly thing to do. The High Command has to find a way to change the culture. Simply issuing a release after each suicide or murder-suicide just will not cut it.

The reaction of a senior police officer clearly illustrates the culture that reigns: "When I heard the news, I simply couldn't believe it ... . It was only after a trusted colleague confirmed it that I finally accepted that it is true. I have been hearing that he was having domestic issues, but as a man who is trained to handle stressful situations, I never expected him to do anything like that."

I do not and cannot comment on this particular case. But I have wanted to say this for a long time. We do not always appreciate the efforts of soldiers who are halfway around the world fighting so that we can live in a free world. Nor do we appreciate the efforts of our cops, who have to make sacrifices that few of us are called on to make as they work for an undermanned force that lacks resources to abate the crime monster that our society faces.

I therefore appeal to the Police High Command: Think family! In theory, a police officer can be transferred from Negril to Port Morant. (S)he knows that when (s)he signs up. The wife or significant other is expected to keep the home fires burning. The children end up seeing their dad at irregular intervals. Let humanity also play a role in transfers.


Department of Humanities

Northern Caribbean University