Wed | Jan 19, 2022

Alfred Dawes | I scream at police in videos

Published:Sunday | March 14, 2021 | 12:29 AM

Okay, so I had this title for a while but had to be sure squaddie was OK before I used it. From the looks of his latest video that had him dancing up a storm in a bar, it seems he has got over the many licks he received on social media. For all who have been sleeping in the back of a car without a data plan, I am referring to the uniformed officer captured on a widely circulated video in a compromising position.

Someone could have given me a heads-up on the graphic content before I opened it in line at Devon House ice cream store, but such is the character of who I call friends. Speaking of friends, I’m sure those who have police friends were salivating at the thought of the teasing they would be administering when they saw them again. That video, however, as controversial as it was with the quickly withdrawn indictment of the officer, was the least flattering that involved lawmen in recent days.

Probably the most disturbing video over the last few days originated in May Pen where a man was seen wrestling an officer to the ground in the middle of the road. Onlookers, of course, did the natural thing and whipped out their cell phones to capture the ‘outrage porn’ that we share daily. Nobody viewed the assault of the lawman as an assault on decency and civility, nor thought it was their duty to get involved. This has steadily become the norm in our society and is merely a symptom of the lawlessness that has engulfed the land.

In fact, egging on those who challenged the police is widely seen in shared videos and never has there been a dissenting voice saying “yu cyaa deal wid de police suh bredren!”. The former scenario was played out in Hellshire this week where officers had to beat a hasty retreat after being confronted by a loudmouth whose expletive-laden tirade would have undoubtedly evolved into the incitement of violence against them if they tried to apprehend him. That and the subsequent video of his arrest featured videographers and movie extras who were also adding fuel to the fire.

SOCIETY A TINDERBOX

In an earlier article, I alluded to our society being like a tinderbox and the security forces being the spark that ignites it. As time progresses, it is apparent that the respect that the security forces once enjoyed has plummeted even more dramatically than that of healthcare workers as the complaints against them grow. While there have been serious attacks on healthcare workers, including yours truly, the symbolism of verbal and physical abuse directed at the sentinels guarding the order of our civilised society is a direct threat to our democracy. In case you are reluctant to accept this position, be reminded that a police officer was just last November shot dead and his head bashed in by patrons at an illegal dance as he attempted to disarm a gunman. The patrons then took the injured gunman to the hospital.

Whether you want to blame the current state on the actions of rogue cops or the fact that they are defending a status quo of inequality and inequitable application of the law, we must accept that the actions of the public are not in keeping with that of an orderly and civilised society. Even worse for the cops, extrajudicial killings and police corruption are constantly highlighted by NGOs that need to publish these facts or perish due to lack of international funding.

This twisted logic has resulted in the movement to defund the police in the United States and the lack of respect and suspicion towards our local police force. We all agree that the police force needs radical reform but as it is, they are the only ones standing between us and total anarchy. Each share and like of a video showing actors with cheering crowds disrespecting the men and women in uniform brings us closer and closer to the day when the state will be completely powerless to tackle the next don who creates a militia.

The undermining of the work and image of the police is not just an external problem. There are several bad actors who escape the video light in their acts of corruption, ably abetted by politicians who secure seats with the twin powers of community gangsters and corrupt cops. This Gordian knot must be untied in order to create a force that will command the level of respect and trust required to reverse the lawlessness in our land. We broad-brush the good cops with the grime from the corrupt ones and the fact that they, the good ones, are upholding a warped society where the corrupt politicians and their cronies live lavishly off our tax dollars. We speak about a crime plan as if a series of actions will magically yield results once they are properly resourced.

An effective crime plan will address not only the resources and strategy of the force, but the values and attitudes of Jamaicans and an overhaul of our political system to obviate the need of politicians for corrupt cops and gangsters. That, however, is fodder for another column. In the meantime, the eat-a-food mentality will not take a back seat and finger-licking good videos will be welcome reliefs whenever we get a taste of the daily lives of the Jamaican police on the job.

- Alfred Dawes is a general, laparoscopic, and weight-loss surgeon; Fellow of the American College of Surgeons; former senior medical officer of the Savanna-la-Mar Public General Hospital; former president of Jamaica Medical Doctors Association. @dr_aldawes. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and adawes@ilapmedical.com.