Top cop reiterates call for addition of mental health professional to the force

A number of senior police officers and one senior prison officer graduated from the Sir Wright F. George Police Academy last month following in-house training.
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By Carlena Knight

The Commissioner of Police has reiterated calls for a mental wellness professional to be attached to the Royal Police of Antigua and Barbuda.

Atlee Rodney first made the appeal earlier this year when he requested that a mental health professional be assigned to offer support to police officers who are asked to deal with stressful issues on a daily basis, and although the law enforcement department has been working alongside the American University of Antigua (AUA) regarding the mental well-being of its officers, he said a more permanent solution is still needed.

“We have not been given an expert assigned to the police force, but the AUA has listened to our cry and has stepped forward with the assistance that they have been providing to the police force when it comes to mental wellness. They have provided workshops, they have provided one-on-one counselling, and they have also provided some group counselling sessions; and we just want to thank them for that because I know the importance of having good mental wellness as we perform this job of law enforcement; but we still have the need to have someone assigned to the police force to provide that service. Just as we need someone to provide medical help, we also need someone to provide psychological help as well,” Rodney said while speaking at the Police Press Conference last week.

In addition to the mental wellness training, Rodney mentioned that other training sessions have been ongoing.

Despite the fact that the normal practice of overseas training for law enforcement officials have been cancelled due to Covid, in-house training is now being conducted.

Rodney shared that a number of administrative training sessions have been completed.

Just last month, 16 senior police officers and one senior prison officer graduated from the Sir Wright F. George Police Academy, having completed a Senior Police\Prison Administrators Course-SPAC.

 The two weeks of training began on Monday 14th September and concluded on Friday 25th September, with a short graduation ceremony. The course covered a wide range of topics such as, Corruption in Public Office, Human Rights, Critical Thinking, Effective Communication, Use of Force Policy, Effective Leadership, and Change Management, among others.

“[Covid] has obviously affected our overseas training opportunities, but we have decided to conduct several in-service training and training courses catered towards all aspects of policing. So far, we have completed training in the area of the junior level, the constables level, and then we went into supervisory training. We went into middle management, we had a senior management training course and then the last one we will be having later this month is for senior executive officers,” he explained.

The Tactical Unit, Traffic Department and Criminal Investigation units, according to Rodney, will be conducting their specific training this week.

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