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Sunday, June 14, 2015

Let's praise our police force!

Too often we neglect to praise our national heroes. Often times, unsung heroes do most of the work with little notice from the general public for doing their jobs. This is not something that is intentional, not by any means. But it is something, this symptom of forgetfulness, which makes us highlight the shocking and dramatic over the seemingly mundane and simple things, is something I wish to check for just one second as often times the small things that people do on a daily basis that saves lives and builds a better Commonwealth is what matters most. 

No group of heroes go unsung than the good, hard working officers of The Royal Bahamas Police Force. God bless them all. Really and truly these brave men and women deserve more honour, recognition and respect than we give them. To that, I apologize on behalf of those that don't give you enough credit and accolades, and on the other hand I wish to sing in chorus with those that do so.

What's been happening on a seemingly daily basis, when we hear of police versus civilian conflicts in America, and quite specifically police officers versus Black American civilians, is too often one of fatal consequences and more than a healthy portion of the times fatal for the civilians. Stories of police officers shooting unarmed men, some men as young as 12 years old, leaves one to wonder what in the world is going on in America and their apparently rogue police forces. It really is disheartening.
However, when you look at the police force in The Bahamas, one would be a fool to suggest that the level of distrust between the forces and the civilian population is anywhere near critical levels. Not even the use of force is as obscene and overhanded as we have seen regularly reported in the news in America. We should all be thankful.

The life of an officer must be very challenging, and stressful. Not only do they deal with gruesome scenes and horrific acts of brutality on a regular basis, they also have to deal with sensitive family and relational issues like rape, incest, child abuse and petty fraud with the latter a most vexing and upsetting matter to deal with. I say vexing because, nine times out of ten, the fraud cases are very elaborate and the perpetrator often times is someone trusted by the community or someone that has gained the trust of their victim by being the stand-up, salt of the earth citizen. In addition, more often than not, small and medium fraud cases are swept under the rug, money very rarely recovered, but lives are turned upside down and with very little the authorities and the police themselves can do about it.

Moreover, no one takes the time to consider the emotional and psychological damage done to our officers as a result of the apparent high levels of crimes and abuses taking place in The Bahamas. The level of trauma and stress related illnesses must be very significant, and in fact changes a person that has to deal with it on a regular basis.

I have known persons shocked and appalled by simple videos of humans acting at their worst. I personally have been traumatized by my first beheading video, and just as equally still as shocked and upset by a video leaked online showing an African babysitter abusing a 1 year old infant in the most inhumane, cruel and disheartening ways a human being can treat another human being, let alone an infant unable to defend itself. The images of these events, that I saw by my own free-will and nothing foisted on me, or nothing that was thrust into my circle by forces uncontrolled by me, still haunt me. Can one imagine what our officers go through on a weekly basis?

To go even further, our officers not only deal with the inhuman-humans among us, but they operate in very blighted and depressing corners of our society. Anywhere from seedy, run-down public houses, to depressed communities with even more depressed community members, to obscure and remote areas within our Family Islands where matters must be dealt with at a true community level, and many a times our officers must not only stand as peacemakers, but protectors of the greater good as they make judgement calls on what is something that can be dealt with between people, and what matters must be dealt with from a state and governmental level. The pressure of this, I can empathize, is phenomenal.

No one is asking our police officers to be super-human. No one is even asking them to be of high moral fibre, because they too have their off-days and among their ranks, a few less than human-humans. However, whatever day they decide to go to work and deal with the matters we, as civilians, can't possibly begin to deal with ourselves, is a day I am forever grateful that we pay them to do this for us.

Without a doubt, and while some persons within our community would take the cheap way and bash our officers for the work they are doing, often times bashing officers for officers calling out these very same civilian rabble-rousers for their anti-social and disruptive behaviour, bear in mind that we live in The Bahamas. Not California or Texas USA where civilian deaths at the hands of police officers are higher than the American average, by far and they are both ranked #1 and #2 respectively. Not even Iraq or Liberia, where the armed services, and in particular the local police forces are less than stellar protectors of the peace. But The Bahamas, where there is still a great chance that the police officer you meet on the street is your family member, or a friend of a friend, at the very least.

Let us all give them the common courtesy, respect and show them that we understand what they deal with on a daily basis. To those hard working police officers, a heartfelt thank you!
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