Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Independent Investigation into Police Brutality Needed Now

It’s the sacred Yule season and my family is going to Joncannu and I’ve set a lovely golden, silvery altar by the writing table. I’m troubled by the heartache that so many families are right now feeling, and trying not to feel. Another murderer is on the loose, another young man is dead. And, another woman’s home has been invaded by police gone amok. So much violence in the world. So many are grieving tonight. And so many more of us are remaining silent in the face of this violence, and as another Bahamian writer has said, Silence means consent.

This is what happens in patriarchal communities like ours where generation after generation of people are raised up in violent households. Wherever women are battered down, there will be children who grow up to commit murder, and children who grow up to be their victims. Wherever women are devalued and brutalized on a daily basis, as we are in the town of Nassau, there will be children who grow up out of these violent households to become policemen who commit home invasions and terrorize innocent women and their families on Christmas day.

I asked the police recruits: “Haven’t most of you grown up in violent households?” The vast majority of the class intoned, “yes.” This is a terrifying thought. Are the vast majority of officers also the adult survivors of childhood violence? And have the majority of them never received a minute of counseling before being allowed to wear that uniform or carry a gun? This must be so. Where do we think the children of these violent households end up? They end up both in jail, and on the police force, and on the defense force, and in the guard houses of the prison and the detention center.

I call on Police Commissioner Paul Farquharson to call for an immediate, INDEPENDENT investigation into these stories of police brutality. I believe he should have done so as soon as he heard of the woman officers detained without allowing to put on any clothes. There must be an independent investigation, if not for the sake of the women who were terrorized, then for the sake of the decent policemen and women who do their jobs the right way. If policemen are not held to the highest standards of the laws of decency, then how can they protect our women from violence, how can they stop our sons from killing our sons?

I call on the police force to recognize the enormity of this crisis in their ranks, and to assume that most men and women applying to the college are the products of violent homes, and to make extensive psychological evaluation a part of the selection process for new recruits. When they are found, survivors of domestic violence applying for a place on the force should be required to receive psychological counseling and further evaluation before being allowed to enter the college, to make sure we don't create monsters in uniform.

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