There's a trap waiting for those of us who work for a living if we are not careful. It's the belief that the job's only relevant aim is to ensure a pay cheque or envelope and that professionalism, efficiency and service to others are way down the totem pole in terms of importance.
It's a trap that is particularly dangerous for those referred to as public servants — whose actions can have long-term and far-reaching consequences for the people they are mandated to serve.
From this distance we are left to strongly suspect that police personnel at the Wait-a-Bit station in south Trelawny and the Christiana station in northern Manchester may have fallen into that trap. We say this in the context of their alleged failure to adequately respond to cries for help from distressed mother, Miss Kelly-Ann Smith.
For those who haven't read or heard the story, Miss Smith had ended a seven-year relationship with the father of her two children after their life together allegedly became volatile and dangerous.
She moved out of their Woodgrove, Trelawny home with her two baby daughters, aged four and two, and moved in with her mother in Coleyville, Manchester just across the border with southern Trelawny.
The children's father, Mr Kenville Mullings, then allegedly snatched the two children before using them as bait to get close to Miss Smith. He threatened her with a machete to the throat before again leaving with the babies.
Miss Smith then did what she really should have done, from the very beginning: she called the police. She called the Wait-a-Bit police, only to be told that they could not respond because apparently the alleged abduction had occurred in Manchester and therefore, according to them, outside their jurisdiction.
We can only imagine Miss Smith's increasingly frantic state in the dead of night, as she then called the Christiana police, only to be told they were unable to take a report on the phone. We are left to assume that it was the absence of what was considered a formal report which led to the Christiana police also taking no action.
Subsequently, the bodies of the two infants were found at the Woodgrove home — their throats slashed — while their father's body was found hanging from the roof of the house.
We empathise with Commissioner of Police Mr Owen Ellington, who, not for the first time, finds himself remonstrating with members of his organisation on how to treat the public. Mr Ellington must be figuratively tearing out his hair, since only a few days earlier another domestic tragedy in Clarendon was also linked to alleged lackadaisical response by the police.
We are aware, of course, that insensitive, off-hand behaviour such as that attributed to the police in Trelawny, Manchester and Clarendon last week occur from time to time, right across the public service sector. Employees at government offices and even health workers and teachers, all too often, are so accused.
We fear that such allegations may well become more prevalent as public servants grow more and more frustrated with the inadequacy of pay, even as austerity and wage restraint measures take hold, under the soon-to-be-finalised IMF agreement.
We suggest it will be incumbent, not just on Mr Ellington and others in the leadership of public sector service organisations, but also on the leadership of staff associations and trade unions to remind their members that duty and responsibility as professionals serving the interest of the public must come first.