Don't let it happen again!

Monday, September 10, 2012    

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EVEN as Jamaicans celebrated the momentous victory of the Reggae Boyz over the United States in their CONCACAF World Cup football qualifier on Friday night, there was a seriously sour note.

Scores, possibly even hundreds of ecstatic fans scaled the fence on the bleachers side of the National Stadium and swarmed the players.

Head of Jamaica's football, Captain Horace Burrell, well schooled in the ways of world football governing body FIFA, has since warned fans that such behaviour should not be repeated.

In football it's not allowed, and will go against us, Captain Burrell is quoted as saying in yesterday's Sunday Observer. Captain Burrell reportedly voiced the view that education could help to prevent such behaviour in the future.

What Captain Burrell apparently didn't say, but should have said, was that basic security measures should have been in place to prevent any such occurrence.

We agree with Sunday Observer football analyst Mr Clyde Jureidini who has made the point that the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) could be questioned for the lack of security and event management.

Jamaican football fans have become accustomed in recent years to police personnel taking up position around the field to prevent exactly what happened on Friday night. Obviously, in this latest case, the JFF dropped the ball. Lesson learnt, we hope.

Preventing another nine-day wonder

Most of us are well aware, even in a sort of peripheral manner, of the tremendous pressure and stress facing the men and women of the security forces on a daily basis.

The issue has come forcefully to the fore with the recent tragic killing of young, pregnant Miss Kay-Ann Lamont in Yallahs, St Thomas after a policeman allegedly shot her.

From all quarters, the calls have come for greater professional attention to the mental and emotional well being of our security force personnel, many of whom operate in highly volatile and dangerous situations almost on a daily basis.

In this space a few days ago, we urged the society to contemplate the critical issue of how we prepare our policemen and women to serve and protect... and how we provide healing for those who succumb to the magnitude of its burdens.

To its credit, the Government has indicated its intention to act and, for the time being at least, we sense that there is a recognition among the populace of the need for security personnel to have regular psychological and psychiatric care.

However, as we well know, in Jamaica many critical issues become no more than nine-day wonders. The many needs and demands against a backdrop of scarce resources mean the political directorate respond first to popular pressure.

Yet the need in this case is not going to go away and all stakeholders, including us in the media, must ensure it remains on the front burner.

Yesterday's front page story in the Sunday Observer titled "Cops: We're not treated like humans" by Ms Kimone Thompson matched the 28th in the series by Mr Horace Helps on close encounters with death. Mr Helps' latest feature focused on the experiences of former crime fighter Mr Isaiah Laing. Both stories provide chilling detail on the kind of horrors being faced by the police. The need for counselling for our security personnel, not just from chaplains and others of a religious bent, but from professionals in the field of psychology and psychiatry, becomes even more obvious.

We all have a responsibility to ensure this does not become another nine-day wonder.





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