Tue | Sep 22, 2020

Letter of the day | Should the public fear the security forces?

Published:Tuesday | January 14, 2020 | 12:00 AM


The trend of murder-suicides has become tragically associated with members of the armed forces, so much so that on May 29 of last year, Prime Minister Andrew Holness had asked the commissioner of police to furnish him with a report identifying the factors and trends among the police officers who have committed these horrific incidents.

I start this letter with the questions: What has happened to this report? Was it done and sent to the Office of the Prime Minister? Was it made public and I just missed it?

I ask these questions because of the most recent incident of murder-suicide that happened over the past weekend. And while this occurred at the hands of a member of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF), it is hard to distinguish it from the many incidences of the murder-suicide by members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF).

As the JCF considers changing (some would say lowering) the standard required for aspiring police officers so as to increase their numbers, I wonder if the body is doing enough for those members they already have. There is no use in recruiting more persons, only to have those that would supervise or join them in the field be left to their devices to commit these atrocious acts.

I, therefore, ask another set of questions.

- What has the management of the JCF and JDF done to provide psychosocial support to their members who are experiencing personal challenges at home and in their communities?

- Why are so many (and one is too many) of their numbers seeing murder-suicide as an option to deal with these problems they face at home?

- Should we the public be concerned that the inability to handle these issues at home may be turned on us as they do their jobs of maintaining law and order?

No society should feel at ease while members of the armed forces use their tax-funded service weapons to fatally resolve their interpersonal and/or romantic problems.

All eyes should be on the Office of the Commissioner of Police for this report as well as the list of services and interventions that have been, are being, and will be provided to the JCF and equally, given his history in the JDF, he may be able to shed some light on what happens within that entity.

As a means of survival, I have often told my friends and colleagues to stay away from members of the armed forces when seeking romantic partners. Sadly, nothing has happened to make me want to change my perspective.