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By Carlena Knight
A local psychologist is in agreement with the call made by the country’s top cop, for his officers who are investigating heinous crimes to receive psychological support.
Commissioner of Police Atlee Rodney’s comments came days after the bullet riddled body of Customs officer Nigel Christian was found shortly after he had been kidnapped from his home.
Rodney explained that the crime scenes that he and his officers are exposed to can be very distressing.
In agreeing Rodney, Dr Cleon Athill said there is a need for ongoing support of law enforcement but went a step further to suggest that routine psychological evaluations should be conducted with all interested personnel prior to their joining the force.
“Certainly, I think psychological support for police officers is needed but also psychological evaluation from the onset, too. When you are interviewing during the recruiting process, there should be some sort of psychological intervention to match personality with the job so that we know we are getting people who are stable, who are well-adjusted into the force and of course, ongoing support psychologically we do need that sort of thing,” she said.
Dr Athill, who is also a member of the good governance group, The Movement, also shared her opinion on the impact of Christian’s murder and similar crimes may have on residents of the twin island.
According to the psychologist, “the greater the level or severity of the crime, the greater the level of fear will be in the society”.
“There is a lot of impact. When there is any crime in society persons begin to feel very fearful. It is said when crimes happen in a society, societies decline as well. People may feel a sense of detachment for safety; they feel numb. People are not sure what is happening so they have a heightened sense of awareness and you will start to hear all sorts of gossip and stories because they are going to try to connect the dots,” she explained.
“Over time, it may even cause people to withdraw from society [and] people will withhold their involvement in areas or activities which would make society better.”
Former President of the Caribbean Federation of Police Welfare Association, Sergeant Brenton Smith also weighed in on the matter. The Vincentian police officer believes that the economic impact of not solving crimes like these could be the most crippling.
“The impact of these crimes on a society is very serious. It prevents foreign investors from coming to your country, which means your economy can be affected. Even locally, crime can prevent new businesses from coming on stream and can cause the closure of existing businesses. People can become frightened from being outside of their homes and that is not something you want to happen.
“I did some research sometime and in 2015 the British and Scottish governments spent billions of dollars to deal with the consequences of crime. Crime always has an effect on the society,” Smith added.

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