Thursday, May 23, 2013

Jamaica Blog Day - Our Police Officers

Jamaica Blog Day 2013 (official banner for blog posts)We were told to condemn police excesses for this Jamaica Blog Day.

Members of the  Glengoffe Police Youth Club.  The Police Youth Club is the largest Youth Club in Jamaica - volunteer officers mentor and coach thousands of young Jamaicans.

Of course, I condemn these excesses, but today I am writing about the excessive dedication and courage that I have personally seen in our police officers.

Former Commissioner of Police Francis Forbes did a one-year project for the JCF when he was Commissioner.  There was a General Election and observers from the Carter Centre came for the event.  This included US Police who were impressed by the professionalism of our police officer - they wrote a glowing letter and subsequently, the Carter Centre said there was no need for them to monitor our elections.
Now Commissioner Forbes did not have stars in his eyes!  He knew that there were some politically affiliated officers in his Force who mysteriously applied for 'leave' round about election time, to assist candidates with their own type of 'campaigning'.  I was sitting in his office when he showed me a cupboard: "This is where I kept all the Election Day vests - I did not issue them until the morning of Elections so they could not be copied."

Retired Asst Commissioner of Police Neville Wheatle
He told me that he was on the scene after a gang member had been killed in a shoot-out with the police.  He saw a respectable lady - a shopkeeper from the community - holding up a 'Justice' sign and went to her.  "You know it was an honest shoot-out Miss Smith* - why are you demonstrating?"
Miss Smith answered: "I have to demonstrate - you want them burn down mi shop".
ACP Wheatle was the guiding light for the Police Torch Run for many years - Police Officers throughout Jamaica raised funds so that our Special Olympians could participate in their World Games. One police officer in St Elizabeth planted acres of watermelon just to support the Special Olympics!

Retired ACP Rosie McDonald-Barker first met Rosie Barker when my client invited then PM Manley to address their event and his office asked if his bodyguard could do a rekki of the location.  You can imagine my surprise when an elegant lady greeted me in the hotel lobby and identified herself as the PM's bodyguard!  ACP Barker later served in the Grant's Pen area and was so beloved by both JLP and PNP supporters that she has several Godchildren there.

Did these officers acknowledge that there were bad eggs in the JCF?  Of course they did, and they were painted with the same broad brush by insensitive Jamaicans, who made their children fearful of their classmates finding out the careers of their parents.  However, they continued to courageously serve and protect their fellow Jamaicans.  Today, I salute the wonderful, disciplined members of Jamaica's Police Force -  you make us proud!

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