Police more aware of stress-related issues
HEAD OF the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) Chaplaincy Unit, Bishop Gary Welsh, says police personnel are becoming increasingly aware of the many stress-related issues associated with their jobs.
Welsh, however, declined to comment on whether this has resulted in an increase in the number of police personnel seeking counselling.
He said the heightened awareness was the result of a number of initiatives undertaken by the JCF to educate and sensitise members about the many job-related stresses.
"Pretty much every officer you talk to today will be able to rattle off for you the signs and symptoms that you look for," Welsh told The Gleaner on Monday.
seminars and workshops
In addition, he said a number of organisations have approached the JCF to host seminars and workshops on the issues, but those plans have not yet been finalised.
The move by the JCF to sensitise police personnel about stress-related issues was triggered by separate multiple murder-suicides in St Mary and Manchester last month involving a serving and former member of the force.
In the first incident on April 7, Police Corporal Wayne Llewellyn killed his estranged wife's mother, father, brother and daughter and critically injured her before taking his own life with a bullet to the head.
Almost a week later in Melrose Mews, Manchester, retired police sergeant Osbourne Whitton killed his ex-girlfriend, Woman Corporal Bevon Hutchinson, her son and his father before turning the gun on himself.
After the first incident, Police Commissioner Owen Ellington took the decision to relieve "unstable cops" of government-issued and personal firearms.
Ellington also appealed to troubled cops and retired police personnel to seek counselling and urged members of the force to help their colleagues with known or visible personal problems, by informing supervisors or commanders.
Bishop Welsh said police personnel have been very receptive to the JCF's efforts to provide them with more information on job-related stresses.
"Based on instruction from the commissioner (of police), it is the subject of weekly lectures and seminars and workshops, and people (police personnel) talk about it freely," he said.