Police officers are in mental and emotional pain and need psychologists to help them deal with violent crime and prevent them from bending the rules of law enforcement, President Anthony Carmona has said.
Carmona was the featured speaker yesterday at a cocktail reception at the Police Administration Building, Port of Spain, which followed the Independence Day parade at the Queen’s Park Savannah in the capital city.
His audience included Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley.
Carmona said, “The work of a police officer is one that is endearing. It is one that is fraught with great sacrifice and the wear and tear of a police officer engaged in fighting crime is not fully appreciated by a sometimes unforgiving public who continues to demand a standing that they are not prepared to invoke in their own daily lives.”
He said: “The daily ritual of picking up bodies of young men takes its toll on us all but more so the police officer and this may well be impacting on his dedication and morality. It is not an easy occupation to see in one week and experience in one week of many of young men dying and what is even more hurtful is when life is trivialised by being characterised as gang related. That is someone’s friend, somebody’s nephew or husband. That is a human being not a statistic.”
As he addressed Persad-Bissessar and Rowley, Carmona called for professional help for police officers.
“I am not in the business of fancy speeches as many of you all have forgotten that I was a criminal judge and I was part of the Director of Public Prosecutions so I know what is going on and we need forceful and fruitful dialogue and I know Dr Rowley and I know Madam Prime Minister that in your hearts it hurts everyday when a child falls...I know that, but apart from those who suffer, police officers in my humble view need clinical psychologists to deal with that level of mental and emotional pain suffered daily by them in the trenches.”
He continued, “As a result of the pressure put on them by the public there is that risk that they become overzealous and bend the rules.”
To police officers, Carmona said: “The bottom line officers, if there is no evidence you cannot charge (an alleged offender) because I can tell you, I too have felt your pain as a prosecutor and as a trial judge and I have seen criminal cases collapse in court where on paper within the bounds of reason a killer stands in the docks and I have to free that killer.”
In an immediate response to Carmona’s speech, acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams yesterday described it as an excellent one which reminded everyone of their part to play in defeating the scourge of crime.
“We have heard what he said and we have accepted what he said as a tool to help us,” Williams said.
Earlier Carmona had advice on solving the crime scourge for the Prime Minister and the Opposition Leader.
“I would be failing in my responsibilities if I don’t seize this time to ask on behalf of the nation your very serious intervention and collaboration and cooperation in arresting this crisis on the East-West Corridor.
“It is not about posturing. It is not about making fancy speeches and sentiments and it is not about simply going there and leaving but it’s about us getting together to deal with our young people and we have to do something about it,” he told Persad-Bissessar and Rowley.
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