Letters to the Editor

The mentally ill are no less Jamaican

Thursday, April 19, 2018

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Dear Editor,

The recent incident involving a police officer in Linstead who was chopped by a mentally unstable person highlights the importance of getting the mentally ill off the streets so they can get care.

Any country that is serious about development must also take into consideration facilities for the less fortunate and those that really are not in a position to care for themselves due to mental instability.

The Andrew Holness-led Administration should start the process of seriously protecting the general public from these individuals and also protecting them from themselves.

I would also encourage members of the private sector to lend their support to the Government in managing this issue.

I am, however, very disturbed by the actions taken by the law enforcement officers that were present on the scene as they apprehended the mentally ill man. The raw emotions that are at play can never be dismissed, as I can just imagine how the police officers must have felt knowing that this person almost took the life of one of their colleagues. I am, however, concerned at the level of care shown towards the mentally ill while trying to get him medical attention for an obviously broken leg. The man could be seen being dragged on the ground at some points, then being placed in the back of a police car, and then being kicked further into the car as the police officer tried to sit beside him. His screams could be heard all while many citizens were encouraging the police officers present to “buss one inna di bwoy offica', 'kill di bwoy”.

Police officers should be reminded that their emotions cannot overcome their professional conduct, regardless of the situation they are in. One public official who is the master of separating emotions from professional issues is the Director of Public Prosecutions Paula Llewellyn. She has been able on many occasions to suppress her emotions when commenting on issues — sometimes to the annoyance of the public, who would expect her to spew a lot of fire on some cases her office handles. However, she sticks to the law. The police must learn to adopt the same approach when dealing with all issues.

The way this mentally ill man was treated ought not to be applauded by any Jamaican claiming to be sane! As a country we are too quick to throw the rule of law aside to administer our own justice; however, when the same approach is taken towards us or loved ones, we hit the streets calling for justice.

It is not abnormal for the mentally ill to have episodes in which they act out, especially if they are not being treated. Let's show some compassion for all parties involved, as a mentally ill person, I am sure, does not enjoy being this way — in the same way a sane person would not like to be on the receiving end of a mental episode.

If we as sane Jamaicans really expect to see change in law and order we must act like sane, lawful citizens. My prayers are with the injured policeman, and dare I say the Independent Commission of Investigations should look into this matter.

Javid Brown






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