Wed | Jul 15, 2020

Police personnel children benefit from $29 million in scholarships

Published:Saturday | January 18, 2020 | 12:13 AM

Detective sergeant Patrick Henry gave up on his dreams to become a nurse when he joined the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) 22 years ago, but on Thursday, the father of three watched with pride as his daughter accepted a scholarship to finance her studies at a local university where she is pursuing a degree in nursing.

“I support her in whatever she wants to do. I am very proud of her and I know that she will do well in her nursing field,” Henry said, shortly after his daughter Gia accepted the scholarship valued at $200,000, which will help to finance her studies at the University of the West Indies, Mona campus.

With mounting concern over the number of police officers dying from health complications, her career choice will allow her to serve those who are serving. The Jamaica Police Federation revealed that 45 members died last year from natural causes and more than 200 succumbed to ill-health in the last five years.

“I think we need to manage our stress better and we need to open up and get more counselling,” detective sergeant Henry, suggested when asked how police officers could protect themselves.

The scholarships were given by the Ministry of National Security in partnership with the Jamaica Police Federation. A total of $29 million was disbursed to new and returning students for the 2019-2020 academic year. Gia was among 83 students who received the scholarships, which are given to children of active or deceased officers.

Acting Deputy Commissioner of Police Richard Stewart noted that police officers have to make a lot of sacrifices in carrying out their duties. One of the things they often sacrifice is their health. Still, he said it is a pleasure for them to serve.

“The reward for us is the peace, safety and security of the people we serve,” he said.

Stewart encouraged the recipients to make the best use of the opportunity to pursue tertiary studies, given the fact that not many persons are given such a privilege.

“As a policeman, one of the things that bring us the greatest joy is when our children achieve. That for the policeman is a significant achievement,” he said.

SYMBOL OF APPRECIATION

Permanent secretary in the Ministry of National Security, Dianne McIntosh, said the scholarship is a symbol of their appreciation for members of the force.

“Every day I am reminded that our brave men and women of the Jamaica Constabulary Force endanger their lives to protect the rest of the nation, and I mean every day this is done 24/7. Despite the risk and looming danger, they manage to execute their jobs with pride and honour,” she said.

“The sacrifice means a lot of time away from family, a lot of time away from being able to bond and share and really hand-hold and mentor you all as young people in the family,” said McIntosh.