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Attack on cop by mentally challenged man elicits calls for help

BY ALICIA SUTHERLAND
Observer staff reporter
sutherlanda@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, April 20, 2018

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MANDEVILLE, Manchester — Superintendent of the Manchester Police Division Wayne Cameron and Mayor of Mandeville Donovan Mitchell say that the relevant authorities need to deal urgently with the danger posed to residents of this central Jamaica town by some mentally challenged people on the streets.

Cameron made the appeal as he provided an update to the Jamaica Observer on the incident in Christiana last Tuesday morning in which a man, believed to be of unsound mind, attacked a policeman with a machete, while he was on traffic duty.

A bystander was reportedly shot as the corporal fired shots in defence.

The corporal and the bystander are said to be still in stable condition in hospital while the attacker is in custody.

Cameron said that charges against the attacker are being contemplated. However, he lamented that attacks on residents by mentally challenged people are occurring far too often.

“There are many instances when the police are called to assist,” Cameron said, explaining that residents find themselves in conflict with mentally challenged people after unprovoked attacks, sometimes with knives or stones.

Cameron said that while the police are not able to effectively deal with such matters, they usually respond and try to get support from trained personnel.

Mayor Mitchell believes that the number of mentally challenged people on the streets is growing, particularly in Mandeville.

He said that while the Manchester Municipal Corporation provides some support, the core responsibility lies with the Ministry of Health.

Mayor Mitchell argued that what now obtains is that an effort is made to get mentally challenged people off the streets when an incident such as what happened in Christiana occurs. However, a more proactive approach is needed.

The call by both men came amid a desperate appeal by the Ebenezer Home for the Mentally Challenged & Homeless in the parish that is fighting to remain open, but is experiencing financial challenges.

Opened in 2000, the registered charity located in Grey Ground, Manchester, temporarily houses a maximum of 20 men and gives assistance to others daily in the form of showers, change of clothes, meals, and medical attention.

According to director Joan Clarke, mental health services are provided to clients through regular visits by a mental health team from the Manchester Health Department.

One of the goals, she said, is to rehabilitate clients and reintegrate them into their families and communities.

Clarke said that based on the current financial situation they may be able to keep the home open for about another month.

Donations to support the Ebenezer Home can be made to Scotiabank Mandeville. The branch # is 50195 and account #533887.

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