Columns

Law and disorder

Barbara
Gloudon

Friday, May 10, 2019

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What do you make of the convoluted story coming out of St Catherine regarding the hero cop vs rogue cop car chase that ended with three people dead and the demise of the Mobile Reserve branch of the constabulary force?

The saga began when a man was killed at a party. Off-duty police who were on the scene began chasing the alleged killers when apparently another off-duty policeman began tracking the other lawmen. By the time the high-speed pursuit ended one policeman was dead, another escaped the scene, and a motorist was shot dead in the drama.

The story was so complicated that officials in the constabulary declined to comment as the details followed a track that had more twists and turns than the old Spur Tree Road. One senior policeman, however, did state that it was a dark day for the constabulary. The darkness grew stronger when Minister of National Security Horace Chang announced that the head of the Mobile Reserve was sent on leave and the division would be “put in park”.

In the following days, long-standing arguments about the role of the police and how policing is done was revived in the physical and online verandah chat. For some, it was the time to turn the police into a “police service” rather than a “police force”.

Question of the day: Will a name change solve the problems in the constabulary?

Of course, we know there are good and bad cops in the force, and change is needed to make sure those who we depend on to protect and serve are doing just that; but what do we really want from the police?

It is a little puzzling that while some clamour for a state of emergency, which suggests more forceful policing, there are others who are asking for a softer, gentler, constabulary.

In discussions about law and disorder you will often hear people calling for draconian measures; “Bring back hanging,” they demand. “Whappen to the cat-o-nines?” “We demand swift and severe punishment for criminals!” There have been times when our people have bypassed the court system entirely and went straight to jungle justice to quench the anger drawn out by the unlawful among us.

In the past, community policing was seen as the answer to the alarming increase in crime. The reasoning by wiser heads was that citizens must trust the police and learn to work with and support them. Citizens' associations and other community groups were encouraged to help meet shortfalls in funding by providing office stationery, equipment, even cars, to shore up the police. For a time, there were many 'friends of the police', but trust is a hard thing to come by. It's hard to raise funds for an organisation that some are suspicious of, or have little faith in.

The talk that some policemen were in league with criminals remained. “Wall have ears and bush have yeye,” and “nuh everything good fi eat, good fi talk,” were the reasoning behind some citizens keeping far from the lawmen and women.

I've talked with policemen and policewomen, some of whom are very often despondent and frustrated even as they do their work. They are very often overworked and underpaid. Sadly, not everyone is going to handle those hardships in the right way. Some become “write and lef” experts, others take their leave of the system, yet some continue to push on hoping things will change.

Now that we are taking a closer look at how policing is done, let us hope that the proper choices are made and, more importantly, that they are implemented. Full time we get it right. Let's get it done!

Celebrate mothers

Sunday is Mother's Day, so flowers, gifts and cards will be handed out with professions of love. It has been a tough time for mothers. They have been losing their children and losing their own lives in the strange, brutal ways of today's world. Let me make a suggestion, don't get too caught up in the commercial excitement and overheated hype, but make sure you tell the mothers around you “thank you”.

In times like these, tomorrow is promised to no man or woman. So keep close to those you love and treat each other with dignity and kindness.

Nuff love to all our mothers and a big thank you to our teachers who were celebrated earlier this week. Nuff respeck!

Barbara Gloudon is a journalist, playwright and commentator. Send comments to the Observer or gloudonb@gmail.com.


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