Sun | Jun 20, 2021

Someone called the police

Published:Monday | June 25, 2012 | 12:00 AM

By Garth A. Rattray

Several weeks ago, 21-year-old Kavorn Schue, sports coordinator for the Mountain View Police Youth Club, was shot dead in a house on Jarrett Lane during a police operation. Residents are adamant that Kavorn was killed in cold blood, and rumour has it that his killing may have been a case of mistaken identity. The highly emotionally charged incident precipitated a protest in the area and triggered a high-level investigation into the matter.

If, as many believe, this turns out to be an unjust shooting, I hope that the law will take its course. I also hope that it will serve as a lesson for our entire society. Whatever the real circumstances of this police shooting turn out to be, our society has long ago abdicated its responsibility to care for and protect everyone within it. Instead, we have depended heavily on the security forces when things get out of hand. So, the blame for Kavorn's death should not be placed solely on the police.


The police are not crazed serial killers. Whenever they carry out operations, they sometimes have a specific target in mind. Obviously, cops are not clairvoyant, they are not psychic, they do not possess any extrasensory perception, mystical powers or superhuman abilities. The police are specially trained law-enforcement officers that must put themselves in harm's way and place their lives on the line in order to protect society from itself. But, they are mere mortals acting on 'intelligence' - information gleaned from various sources within communities and the wider society.

The police receive, assimilate and decide whether to act on information. Sometimes the information is as a result of specific queries regarding the whereabouts or movements of suspected or known felons. On other occasions, the information is spontaneous.

If the information concerns a dangerous individual wanted by the police, they sometimes carry out an operation intended to effect an arrest inside the area. Sometimes they choose to remain in 'surveillance mode' until an opportunity presents itself for the accused perpetrator to be apprehended with minimal risk to innocent citizens.

When they act on credible information and carry out well-researched, well-organised and well-executed operations, things usually go like clockwork. However, sometimes it all goes wrong and horrible mistakes are made.

Then there are those operations that we hear about - those clandestine, unapproved, unofficial, rogue, off-the-record, extrajudicial operations that are designed to get the 'bad guy' at any cost. This is the type of operation that carries an increased risk of error, and, consequently, irreparable disaster.


We create our own problems. Families, communities and the society watch as young men become uninterested in school, home and church, go astray, congregate in various places and forge unhealthy friendships. No one calls the parents because they risk angry responses. No one calls the pastor because the influence of the church is waning. No one calls the police because the boys have not committed any crimes - as yet.

Eventually, the boys dissociate themselves from society, fall off the grid, and become undereducated and disenfranchised. They are recruited by gangs and partake in criminal activities. In time, their exploits become so egregious and so dangerous that someone calls the police. The cops are not called for timely intervention and/or counselling. Someone called the police to get rid of a problem.

If we wait until we have to call the police, it's usually too late, and sometimes things go wrong - as it probably did on Jarrett Lane. We need to institute community intervention groups, unanimously chosen and agreed upon by people within the relevant communities, so that things need not get to the point where we have to call the police and pray that nothing goes wrong.

Garth A. Rattray is a medical doctor with a family practice. Email feedback to and