FOUR IN ONE WEEK: From left, PC Shelford Kinsale, WPC Naomi Subero, PC Anthony Mohammed and PC Saied Ali who all died from complications from the covid19 virus between Monday and Wednesday. A total of 29 police officers have succumbed to the virus. PHOTOS COURTESY TTPS –
Acting Commissioner of Police Mc Donald Jacob is lamenting that no one is considering the well being of the average police officer during the pandemic.
He was speaking with Newsday on Friday in response to news of the deaths of 29 police officers to covid19 since last 2021.
He largely blamed individuals who organise illegal gatherings and oppose the vaccination drive.
Offering condolences, he said the police service was providing assistance and counselling to the bereaved.
“We have been encouraging our officers to get vaccinated. We have now started to do vaccinations at the police hospital.”
Jacob lauded a partnership between the police service and Police Social and Welfare Association (PSWA), such as the latter’s provision of 100 oximeters to the police hospital.
“We have done several things internally through our corporate communications to encourage officers to be vaccinated. Also, we adhere to all the protocols and sanitising.”
However, Jacob said irresponsible individuals are exposing his officers to infection.
“We are in a pandemic dealing with persons’ lives, and persons are constantly trying to undermine the covid regulations and have illegal gatherings, parties, boat rides. Then the police have to go in there and interact, and make arrests. This is putting our officers at great risk.”
Jacob wished for more support from media and social media voices, including public shaming of illegal organisers.
“No one is pounding the persons who are organising these events.”
He lamented undeserved criticism of the police after the arrest and release of illegal party goers.
“And then persons want to know, ‘Why are you releasing these people? Why you hold over 100 persons and releasing them?’
“Where do they want us to put them? Put them in the various cells in the station to be interacting with the police for the police to contract covid19?”
He defended his officers.
“Nobody is thinking about the welfare of the police officers and their health and safety.
Asked about officers getting vaccinated, Jacob said there had been an uptick.
“At the police hospital we provided vital testing where our doctors are providing a checkup for police officers who are not sure, or who are apprehensive of some ailment and feel they can’t be vaccinated. That is encouraging police officers to go forward and be vaccinated.”
He downplayed vaccination incentives.
“I don’t feel that when you are dealing with life and death…Incentivising what? All you get is a lot of money and you are dead? What’s that about?
“I believe there is sufficient information out there to show why there is need to be vaccinated, so even if you contract covid19 you have a fighting and a better chance to survive.
“What we need is for that message to reach our officers and counter the anti-vaxxers who are throwing out information. We are not just in a pandemic concerning the virus, we are also in an information pandemic.
“It is creating difficulty, so officers are reluctant.”
Jacob urged his officers to get vaccinated and if making an arrest to double-mask, likening this activity to a contact sport.
PSWA head Gideon Dickson told Newsday, “The association’s position remains pro-choice.”
He had no issue with officers either vaccinating or not vaccinating.
“We have embarked upon a data-collection drive that will aid us in our strategies going forward and how we could better aid our officers in terms of saving lives and livelihoods.”