AFTER our initial shock and outrage at the dastardly shooting death of Miss Kayann Lamont and the wounding of her sister, Novia Lamont, by a police officer in St Thomas last Saturday, we are given to ask what could have led to such a tragedy.
We have, of course, taken note of reports that the cop involved, Police Corporal Dwayne Smart, is an ardent church-goer, and one description put him as a model policeman. Which makes us even more concerned as to the motive for his actions.
The killing of a reportedly defenceless woman, let alone, one who was eight months pregnant, is always going to arouse the ire of any decent society. Despite the seeming aloofness that has overtaken Jamaicans numbed by the almost everyday taking of lives, even the most hardened of us have felt the anguish of the Lamont family and the community of Yallahs, St Thomas in this case.
We have yet to be convinced that the policeman was really trying to stop a citizen from using indecent language and that upholding the law in this case was of such paramount interest to him that not even her state of defenceless and of advanced pregnancy could have deterred him.
The question is, what demon could have possessed Corporal Smart to open fire on the two women? Our outrage is clearly not enough. We must take serious interest in what is happening to our policemen.
We have made it clear in this space that we don't join in the knee-jerk beating up on policemen. We are keenly aware of the awful dangers that lurk in darkest corners and in perilous nights which our brave policemen must face almost on a daily basis. And we know of the very many wonderful men and women who make up the Jamaica Constabulary Force, all of whom would be equally saddened, bewildered and embarrassed at the actions of Corporal Smart.
It is perhaps opportune that we spend some time as a nation examining what kind of psychological support system is in place to help officers cope with the dangers and the filth of human behaviour that is par for the course for them.
These are modern times. These are complex times. These are the times when ordinary men and women are sorely tested by just the mere requirements of making a living from day to day. It is even moreso for cops who never know whether, in their line of duty, they would make it back home alive.
From time to time we hear that cops are undergoing counselling. What we don't hear too often is about the quality of counselling and psychological testing. We do have a tendency here to expect the best in times of disaster without any consideration for what goes into the delivery of the best.
So while we join the call for justice for the Lamonts — for justice there must be — we also urge the nation to contemplate the critical issue of how we prepare our policemen and women to serve and protect the citizens of Jamaica; and how we provide healing for those who succumb to the magnitude of its burdens.