Sat | Jul 21, 2018

Cops urged to be patient with the mentally ill

Published:Wednesday | June 21, 2017 | 9:16 AM

A call has been made for members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) to exercise better care when dealing with mentally ill persons.

Terrance Williams, head of the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) told yesterday's meeting of Parliament's Internal and External Committee yesterday Williams noted that three fatal incidents by the police in the first quarter of this year involved persons of unsound mind.

Although the INDECOM commissioner acknowledged that one victim was armed with a machete and another with a piece of board, he argued that the police may be escalating situations involving mentally ill persons, when they attack or use force.

“It’s an issue of the concern that we have for safeguarding the right of vulnerable people including the mentally ill and the need for better tactics and observance of tactics as regards to treating with the mentally ill, better equipment to treat with those confrontations, greater patience and greater assistance by mental health officials with the police when tasked with these kinds of occasions to deal with the mentally ill people,” said Williams.

The INDECOM boss agreed with committee chairman and former security minister, Peter Bunting that a mentally ill person is no less of a threat to a cop or members of the public but he argued that the police should utilise procedures taught in the Force to deal with such issues and be patient and give the mentally ill person space.