JCF resolute despite terrible loss

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JCF resolute despite terrible loss

BY SHARLENE HENDRICKS
Staff reporter
hendrickss@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, July 01, 2020

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Members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) yesterday said they remain resolute in their task to beat back criminality even as the death of Superintendent Leon Clunis rocks the organisation.

Speaking with journalists at Kingston Public Hospital where Clunis died, senior members of the JCF said the police force is resolved to continue in its charge to serve and protect the people of Jamaica.

“It is not just two officers [who died], it is now three from one incident. I cannot recall any time in our history that we have lost three officers in one incident. I can recall two incidents prior to this where we have lost two officers, but this has taken it a step up,” Superintendent Wayne Cameron, chairman of the Police Officers' Association, told reporters.

Clunis passed yesterday, just over two weeks after he, Detective Corporal Dane Biggs, Constable Decardo Hylton, and a fourth cop were shot in an early morning battle with gunmen at a house in Horizon Park, St Catherine. Biggs and Hylton died in that operation.

Hours after that encounter police tracked the main suspect — deportee Damion Hamilton — to a house in Cooreville Gardens, St Andrew where he was shot dead during a firefight in which two policemen were injured.

Yesterday, Cameron responded to a suggestion that criminals will view the deaths of the three policemen as some kind of victory.

“This could never be the case,” Cameron said. “We have been here before and we know how to handle ourselves. I am pretty much aware of some of the comments that have been made, especially on social media, by some persons who we did not expect it to come from either.

“It takes circumstances sometimes to bring out in us what we feel and think about each other,” said the superintendent.

“I just want to say to Jamaica that we stand resolute, and as an association, we are even more resolute in support of our officers. This is something that we need to look back at as an organisation how we approach our operations.

“We will again have to put our mindset into the coping strategy, because we will have to encourage our officers, his [Clunis's] friends and his colleagues in the JCF. We will have to activate our chaplaincy unit to ensure that they are counselled.

“We look forward to putting together an honourable funeral for our colleagues and to ensure that our members come out to give their support in spite of the circumstances,” Cameron said.

“As I said before, the association is here to support its members, and we will be doing that. We will be supporting the family and friends and continue to encourage our colleagues in this trying time,” he added.

Chairman of the Jamaica Police Federation Detective Sergeant Patrae Rowe echoed his colleague's sentiments and called on Jamaicans to support law enforcement.

“As the JCF, we are not accustomed to having a trauma of this proportion, and certainly this is a new low for us as a force. But our resolve is strong. As police officers, one of the things that we have to reconcile with is the fact that death is the risk or the consequence of serving our country.

“What we want is for the Government to recognise the tremendous sacrifice that our colleagues have made on this occasion, and we do not wish for the response to be lukewarm, and we do not want for us next week to appear as if it is business as usual,” said Rowe.

He added that the JCF had received commitments from the prime minister to provide the necessary support, and called on Jamaicans to rally around the police force at this time.

“I know that Mr Clunis's passing will provoke another round of tribute, and we hope that Parliament and the people of Jamaica will coalesce around the police and give us the support, because we need the support,” said Rowe.

“Our spirit is broken, but, as I said, our resolve is strong. We do not find any comfort in the fact that the alleged culprit died. I think what we will find comfort in is the resolve of the Jamaican people to stand with us, to extend their condolence and to make a commitment that we have a responsibility to make Jamaica a safer place.

“If our colleagues' passing is not indicative of anything, let it be indicative of the fact that, as a people and as a country, we cannot win if we do not support law enforcement and make the necessary investment in law enforcement,” said Rowe.


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