KINGSTON — Minister of State in the Ministry of National Security, Hon. Dr. St. Aubyn Bartlett, has assured the staff of the St. Catherine Adult Correctional Centre of counselling, following the killing of one of their colleagues last Friday.
The State Minister made the statement while visiting the correctional centre situated at White Church Street, Spanish Town on Monday (July 25). Garfield Hemmings, a Correctional Officer there, was murdered on Friday (July 22) in Old Harbour St. Catherine.
"I am sure that counselling will be arranged so that individuals, especially those who were very close to Garfield, can express their feelings and can get an opportunity to express it the way that you feel will get it out of your system," Dr. Bartlett said.
He also urged the Correctional Officers not to allow the murder to reduce their enthusiasm at work.
"Your job is one of the most difficult jobs in our national security system, and I know that you expect from time to time various negative activities to go on around you. But, I urge you not to allow this one to make you lose your spirit, but continue to be the good officers that you have been," Dr. Bartlett said.
In addition, the State Minister noted that members of the national security system were always at a higher risk of being exposed to criminal activities.
"We recognise that, and we always do things to ensure that we protect ourselves. But, I want to remind you to ensure that wherever you go, and whatever you do, ensure that there are some eyes in the back of your head and to the side of your head," Dr. Bartlett cautioned.
Acting Commissioner, Correctional Services, Lt. Colonel G.S. Prendergast, also expressed condolences to the Correctional Officers.
"Tragedies like these are not easy to deal with, and it's something that we have to make sure that, as an organisation, we remain professional in all that we do, while trying to assist the system in getting to the bottom of what took place and that justice prevails," Lt. Colonel Prendergast said.
By Latonya Linton, JIS Reporter