Sun | Sep 26, 2021

Honour slain police with Heroes Park memorial

Published:Friday | July 17, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Crystal Thomas
US President Barack Obama lays a wreath in honour of war dead at National Heroes Park in April. A correspondent has recommended that a monument to honour slain police be established at the park.

The Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) is responsible for the safety, security and law-enforcement duties on the island nation. Numerous cops have been killed in the line of duty, and the creation of a memorial to those officers could help improve the public perception of the police.

Such a memorial park would serve to remind citizens and visitors of the risks that law-enforcement personnel take when they perform their duties, and of the responsibilities that they take on as members of the JCF.

Originally created by the British after colonisation in 1655, the JCF continues to follow the framework of the British system with regard to officer rank and some general procedures. Reorganised multiple times over the years, the police force today promotes officers from among the ranks, something that was not done previously, and actively recruits women to serve as well.

Violent outbreaks in various parts of Jamaica continue to plague the country periodically, and gang violence has also increased in recent years. Both of these challenges present the JCF with issues that can make the job more dangerous than in other countries (The History of the Jamaica Constabulary Force, 2011).

More than 30 police personnel have been killed in the three years ending in 2011; some of these were killed in the line of duty while others were killed merely for being known JCF personnel.

Just few days ago, we lost Constable Crystal Thomas, a young, hard-working and bright female cop. The simplest and least costly alternative to memorialise the slain constable, and others, is erecting a wall of honour in National Heroes Park.


Slain while serving


This option has been proposed and announced on several occasions, and would list the names of those officers who have been killed. This alternative has the advantage of placing the memorial in a park that is already dedicated to honouring Jamaica's heroes, including war heroes, as well as leaders such as Marcus Garvey.

In addition, National Heroes Park is already known islandwide, and even internationally, which provides additional publicity for the JCF memorial.

However, the park itself was considered dangerous until relatively recently, and having a police memorial erected as part of a larger park could decrease the significance of the memorial in the minds of observers.

I believe the death of Constable Crystal Thomas should give every Jamaican the motivation for a change of heart about how we view police personnel.

I hope something will happen real soon.

US Army (Retired)