Letters to the Editor

Do psychological assessment of policemen regularly

Thursday, September 06, 2012    

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Dear Editor,

I am appalled by the killing of 27-year-old Kayann Lamont who was eight months pregnant. Have the morals of our society retreated to the dire state of the economy? We must now grapple with the anomie of our nation. As the cost of living and unemployment increase, more and more people will become suicidal or reach very close to their breaking point. While I find the act totally reprehensible and deserving of swift punishment, I believe that what occurred on that dreaded day in Yallahs square was inevitable, as whoever was the first person to "step on the policeman's little toe" would have met the full wrath of what perhaps was a psychological breakdown.

There are strong and compelling reasons for the careful selection of police officers, and this process must involve a psychological assessment. This is important when one examines the significant power and authority that come with being a police officer. The vast majority of arrests occur peacefully, but an arrest typically requires a citizen's submission to the arresting officers who are authorised to arrest with the aid of physical force where necessary. Simply stated, an officer may exercise reasonable force to achieve a citizen's lawful arrest. My concern for our Jamaican society is that the authority for reasonable force may extend all the way to the end of the continuum, which is extreme and fatal force - the resulting factor of a personal and social breakdown, whether internally or externally.

I call on the minister of national security and the relevant police authorities to revamp the selection process of our officers and to conduct continued assessments of those already in the force. People who suffer from psychosis, low intelligence, indecision, impulsive tendencies or a debilitating mental condition are unfit for law enforcement.

I may have joined the force as a Rhodes Scholar, but five years into my career, I became bankrupt, my wife died and my son committed suicide. I am certainly not the same person as when I joined the force. Psychological testing of officers will greatly help in preventing a recurrence of this callous act.

Richard Longmore






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