Fri | May 26, 2017

Cop's suicide shocked family, says St Mary superintendent

Published:Thursday | August 27, 2015 | 8:00 AMOrantes Moore

PORT MARIA, St Mary:

Superintendent Stephanie Lindsay, commanding officer for the St Mary police, says the family of Constable Rajon Stephens has been left stunned by a series of incidents in which he is believed to have shot and killed his girlfriend before committing suicide last weekend.

Lindsay told The Gleaner that the incident was "very sad and I feel it for both the families of the young lady and the police officer".

She said: "Although the incident happened in St Mary, (Constable Stephens) worked at a division in Kingston and although I did not meet him personally, I have had the opportunity to interact with some of his family members."

Lindsay added: "Based on the conversations I've had with them, this has come as a real shock to everybody. Even the police officers he worked with in Kingston say what happened was uncharacteristic of this individual."

Lindsay said the police force is always saddened by the deaths of its members as well as other individuals who are alleged to have been killed by law-enforcement personnel.

"We just have to do our best and understand that some things happen as an indication for us to look in the mirror and look at our own officers to see how many of them may be going through difficult situations.

"I know Senior Superintendent Stewart, who was Constable Stephens' commanding officer, is going through a very difficult time, but we just have to look and analyse the situation carefully and do everything we can to prevent something like this from ever happening again."

Lindsay added: "Even at the highest level of the force, we are now being asked to look for more of what they refer to as 'early warning signs'.

more pressure

"We have to look at many things because working in the Jamaica Constabulary Force is a very stressful job and we find that some people will cope better than others.

"Ninety-five per cent of the customers the average policeman deals with have issues that need to be resolved immediately, which puts them under more pressure than the average working person. Sadly, on many occasions, it's the families and loved ones of these officers who tend to be on the receiving end of some of these issues.

"Sometimes things like this happen and people respond by criticising and being judgemental, but you never know what's going to break an individual until they get to that point, and breaking point for me might be a walk in the park for somebody else.

"We have to ensure that we create an environment and atmosphere of openness so that if officers are having severe challenges and difficulty coping, they feel free to speak to a supervisor or somebody at the management level about their issues."