Stress on cops

MoBay vi­o­lence a strain on law­men’s fam­i­lies

Jamaica Gleaner - - FRONT PAGE - Arthur Hall Se­nior News Edi­tor

THEY ARE com­ing un­der in­creased pres­sure to put a lid on crime in Mon­tego Bay, St James, but the men and women on the front line are fac­ing their own bat­tles, which are of­ten ig­nored by the pub­lic. With 21 ac­tive gangs in St James and 17 in­volved in the lat­est flare-up in vi­o­lence, mem­bers of the po­lice force are fight­ing to pro­tect lives daily while putting their own lives at risk and plac­ing their fam­ily mem­bers un­der daily stress. “It is dev­as­tat­ing on the fam­ily, es­pe­cially the wife,” said De­tec­tive Sergeant Michael ‘Bulli’ Chisholm, as he spoke with a Gleaner spe­cial in­ves­tiga­tive team in Mon­tego Bay yes­ter­day. “The fam­ily mem­bers are wor­ried. They are ter­ri­fied. They are afraid that Daddy might not come home. My lit­tle boy, who is age seven, re­cently said, ‘Daddy, I don’t want them to kill you,’ and I just said, ‘Son, me used to it, a long time me a fight it but just pray for me,’” added Chisholm. It was a sim­i­lar story from his col­leagues, Cor­po­ral Ni­cholas Shorter, Con­sta­ble Gary McKen­zie, and De­tec­tive Cor­po­ral Al­ton Lowrie.

WOR­RY­ING SIT­U­A­TION

“Ev­ery killing that takes place in Mon­tego Bay, my mother calls me, and based on how she sounds, you can tell that she is con­cerned, even though she is not in Mon­tego Bay.

“To know that you have your son in Mon­tego Bay and one of th­ese days you can get a call that some­thing hap­pened to him is wor­ry­ing,” said McKen­zie.

Shorter left his mother cry­ing when he went to join the po­lice force and she has not stopped wor­ry­ing since.

“Just like McKen­zie, ev­ery time there is an in­ci­dent of vi­o­lence, I get calls from my mother, fa­ther, sis­ter brother, who want to see if I’m all right and whether any­body I know has been af­fected, be­cause they are wor­ried,” said Shorter.

It is a lit­tle dif­fer­ent for Lowrie, who works with the Scene of Crime Unit, but his fam­ily is no less wor­ried as he works on the mean streets of Mon­tego Bay.

“The chil­dren, they are wor­ried all the while, be­cause some­times when you go on the crime scene, you do not have enough po­lice cov­er­age. If you speak to the wives and the girl­friends, they will tell you that the Scene of Crime peo­ple, when they come home, they are wiped out.”

That pres­sure on Lowrie is sim­i­lar for all the cops who are fac­ing in­creas­ingly younger crim­i­nals in Mon­tego Bay who seem to have no re­spect for life.

The prob­lems for the po­lice­men and women are com­pounded by the ad hoc de­vel­op­ment of the com­mu­ni­ties at the heart of the crime, and the re­fusal of res­i­dents to play their part.

“In this high-crime en­vi­ron­ment, one of the ob­sta­cles fac­ing the po­lice is the re­luc­tance of

per­sons to pro­vide in­for­ma­tion be­cause they fear vi­o­lent reprisals.

“The gangs use vi­o­lence to en­force their code of si­lence in the com­mu­ni­ties,” lamented Shorter.

“The in­for­mal set­tle­ment makes ac­cess dif­fi­cult, while the ter­rain make foot pa­trols, one of the key anti-crime tools, very dif­fi­cult be­cause of the pres­sure it puts in the po­lice.

“Foot pa­trol in an area like Glen­de­von or Salt Spring can be very tire­some, be­cause of the up­hill ter­rain, un­even sur­faces, mul­ti­ple un­knowns, wooded ar­eas and aban­doned build­ings,” added Shorter.

Ac­cord­ing to McKen­zie, pa­trolling th­ese com­mu­ni­ties is stress­ful and very risky be­cause of the zinc fences with the hid­den en­trances that pro­vide cover and escape routes for the crim­i­nals.

“Up to a few nights ago, po­lice on pa­trol in Chico Lane, Glen­de­von, came un­der fire, and when they pur­sued the men made their way through th­ese flip gates in the fences,” said McKen­zie, as he lamented that de­spite the hard work of the po­lice, the crim­i­nals are not get­ting caught at the rate he would like.

That is also a con­cern of his col­league Shorter, who is based at the Po­lice Area One head­quar­ters.

“Po­lice putting out 110 per cent and see­ing peo­ple dy­ing left, right and cen­tre. It makes your ef­fort seem like it is noth­ing and that is a great source of stress,” said Shorter.

“It re­ally seems in­sur­mount­able on some oc­ca­sions de­spite the ef­forts of the good com­man­ders who have served St James like Se­nior Su­per­in­ten­dent (Mar­lon) Nes­beth who mo­ti­vates the staff to get the job done.

Lowrie: The chil­dren, they are wor­ried all the while ... . SHORTER MCKEN­ZIE

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