Two images of police officers caught on camera at the recent Jamaica carnival are drawing diametrically and viscerally different opinion in the way they are perceived.
I have no desire to dive into this debate myself, largely because of the level of energy a debate of this type requires with arguably negligible returns.
As is customary the pros and cons are balkanized in their positions which no amount of persuasion is ever going to change.
It is on that note that I refuse to get involved, except to point out a few facts.
It’s one thing to be caught in a snap moment in time as Steve Brown The superintendent is, but the actions of the constable in that video certainly raises more than eyebrows.
It raised my blood pressure.
Those who see nothing wrong with the imagery of these two officers argue stridently that the dire need for better police community relations vastly supersede any perceived negatives anyone could point to in these imagery.
To bolster their arguments they point to police officers in developed countries engaging in similar conduct.
Where the lines are in that thinking, are yet to be defined by supporters.
What they never bother to say is that, those developed country’s police departments also have a problem with their officer’s actions when they occur.
On the other hand there are those opposed who say we can have good relations with the public without engaging conduct similar to that of that constable .
In fact many say the uniform of a police officers is a symbol of respect ‚it should never be degraded .
Engaging in behavior of this type they argue , diminishes the authority of the police and places everyone at risk when officers lose focus from the task at hand.
All reasonable points , however when we consider the crimes officers have been accused of being engaged in, I wonder whether this is not mild in comparison.
It may reasonable be said however that it is exactly actions of this type which has characterized and precipitated the decline in the quality of our police service, not just in Jamaica but in larger countries as well.
The actions of police are always scrutinized, as such officers have a duty to be as circumspect as is humanly possible at all times.
Younger officers sometimes get caught up in the moment of an event, and sometimes have eyebrow raising instances in their conduct.
Older more seasoned officers do not have such luxury , they know what is expected of them and they have a duty to act accordingly.
They are supposed to have built-in reactions for all occurrences without seeming cold uncaring or aloof.
The notion that these actions speak to levels of coöperation between police and public is hard to fathom and may very well be testament to the levels to which the JCF has sunk.
Many cops remind me back in the day they were afraid to even smoke in their uniform.
Conversely my civilian friends are quick to remind me that cops in bars with assault weapons drinking alcohol does not do it for them either.
Is it the end of the world that an officer get caught up in the moment when a gyrating reveler gets way to close?
But the officer is there to protect the reveler who may already have had too much to drink, or may have been to high on adrenaline or something else .
The officer has to have an imaginary line in his/her head that he/she doesn’t cross and doesn’t allow others to cross.
It’s not about being stiff and unfriendly , it is about being aware that as an officer you have a responsibility to be on alert for the protection of all party goers.
It is difficult to argue you can be completely alert while engaging in daggering.
The fact that it is happening all across different police departments in parts of the world does not mean it’s right.
Even when we argue that it is critically important to exploit all avenues which will foster better community police relations, we still cannot lose sight of the fact that we are living in dangerous times. On that note officers have to be cognizant that there are people willing to kill other innocent human beings to vent their anger and displeasure at some perceived injustice..
Terrorists are always on the prowl for what are called soft targets .
Please do not say this doesn’t happen here.
Crime and terror happen wherever opportunities are present.
It is always up to the Police and other first responders to be vigilant and aware , ever ready to leap into action.
It is not that easy to act to prevent mass loss of life and to arrest potential killers if as an officer you place yourself in a position in which you become a victim as well.
If we set aside the pros and cons of the optics and contemplate only the fundamentals of what is likely to happen in circumstances like these, it’s probably a lot easier to know what side to come down on.