|Cops abused too |
JANELLE DE SOUZA Sunday, March 19 2017
The recent violent slaying of young policewoman, Nyasha Joseph, has opened up a window on a range of domestic abuse – from the emotional to the physical – being experienced by officers, both female and male, in the Police Service.
Word is also that the officers in many instances are shamed to report their situations.
Statistics obtained by Sunday Newsday for 2013-2016 from the Employees Assistance Programme (EAP) of the TT Police Service revealed that during that period, there were less than 20 officers reporting physical abuse, approximately 100 for emotional abuse, approximately 90 reporting psychological abuse, and less than ten officers being victims of sexual abuse. The report did not give an indication of whether the reports were by male or female officers.
When asked about these statistics, Police Service Social and Welfare Association president Inspector Michael Seales expressed surprise that the information was in the public domain. However, he said if the information was correct, such abuse would pose a danger for the officers involved.
Woman Police Corporal Helen Solomon, the Central Committee representative for the North-Eastern Division, in which the murdered WPC Joseph was assigned, told Sunday Newsday that domestic violence and abuse happen in the service but the average officer was not aware of it.
She said it was very hard for anyone to come forward and report abuse, and if they did not have the proper support, they may never treat with it.
“It’s rare that a female officer would come out and talk about their private issues, far less for making a report,” she said. “You would have to be very close with someone for them to trust you enough to talk about their issues.” Seales agreed saying that, on most occasions, police officers felt “too ashamed” to make a report. He said a regular victim would probably not be seen again by the officers after the situation has been dealt with.
However, police officers work in the situation and they would be faced with their co-workers who would know they were a victim of domestic abuse.
“They want to maintain that level of privacy that does not expose their lives to ridicule and embarrassment,” he said This seemed to be the case with WPC Joseph who was reported missing since March 9, and whose body was found in the Gulf of Paria off Sea Lots on March 15.
“You have to consider how that officer has been compromised and whether that abuse lends itself to them being vulnerable while on duty,” Seales said. “Their faculties may not be at its optimum when it comes to providing service to the community they are to serve and so could also make the citizen who is the recipient of their service vulnerable.” “That is a delicate situation so there must be full rehabilitation of those persons and someone with the requisite training to determine when the officers are fit for duty,” he continued.
Seales suggested the affected officers be removed from having to interact (on their jobs) with members of the community they served, and redeployed until the effects of the abuse were mitigated. He stressed that it was not a punishment but a way to avoid the possibility of any compromising situation.
With respect to Joseph, Seales said the association “continues to hurt” and that its members’ hearts go out to her relatives.
Solomon said also the officers are very saddened and devastated over the loss of Joseph, and described the situation as heart-breaking.
She said, “As women police, it was very shocking what happened to this very young officer. In fact, it was unbelievable because she never really expressed any issues to us.
Our hearts go out to her family in this time of grief. We are willing to do anything they can to help them keep strong.” Meanwhile, retired inspector and national awardee Sheila Prince said she was relieved that Joseph’s body was found so she could be given a “dignified military funeral” and her family and the TTPS could feel some sort of closure.
She said given the brutalised condition in which Joseph was found, her death seemed to be personal, and full of emotional passion and heat. However, she said no one could judge the young officer or make assumptions about her life because no one knew the situation.
Noting that police officers also suffer from crime, Prince said no matter where they live, it was necessary for officers to earn respect.
She said the police uniform was just a piece of material but there was a human being with characteristics, morals, and spiritual values under that uniform.
“You have to make the right choices because there would be consequences for your action,” Prince said, asking, “Are you compassionate to people? Are you a law-abiding citizen? Are you a mentor? These are the things people respect you for! Yes, the uniform is supposed to be respected but you will always be who you are.” She noted that, in general, no one could tell others how to live their lives. “Whether you like it or not it boils down to women making the right choices, women respecting themselves,” Prince said. “Women need to realise that when you make a choice you have to think about consequences. A lot of people make mistakes but it is not about making the mistake and staying down, but making the mistake and moving on.” Prince hoped that Joseph’s example would “help bring women to a level of consciousness,” to revisit their lives, and cause them to reflect.
“When they revisit their lives they need to bring some spirituality into their lives,” she suggested, “Because without God we are nothing. We have to try to find something positive coming out of the whole scenario.
The situation should help us to look at life in a different way,” she said.
In addition, Prince believed the country needed people with “moral courage and moral authority” to talk to women, “denounce wrongdoing,” and to tell people what was “true and right” and show them the way to go.
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