Jacob’s blame game

Acting Police Commissioner McDonald Jacob - JEFF K MAYERS
Acting Police Commissioner McDonald Jacob - JEFF K MAYERS

IN RESPONSE to police officers dying of covid19 at an alarming rate, acting Police Commissioner McDonald Jacob has been pointing fingers.

“My officers are dying as a result of the people who are choosing to go and organise all these little parties,” Mr Jacob said this week, adding, startlingly, “I find the news media need to be a little tougher on people.”

Mr Jacob is relatively new to the job. With this attempt to use the media as a scapegoat for a tragic situation, he has made an unpromising start.

Despite what the top cop may feel, there is really one simple cause behind the current spate of deaths among police officers: not enough of them are vaccinated.

The media fraternity has no powers of law enforcement. In fact, all too often the media – like many ordinary citizens – end up subject to overbearing police action.

For good reason, a society depends on police officers, not ordinary citizens, to enforce the law. For this essential service, it was long expected that all officers would be vaccinated by now.

True, the media, which are operating under constraints of their own, have a role in shaping public sentiment to the best of their ability.

But it is misguided or completely disingenuous to suggest, as Mr Jacob has, that the problem his officers face resides outside his remit.

Instead of playing the blame game while women and men are dying, the top cop should look in the mirror and come to terms with several facts.

Firstly, his – and his predecessor’s – approach of “encouraging” officers to get vaccinated has simply not worked. It is scandalous that as of December, fewer than half the officers were vaccinated.

Up to this week, Mr Jacob still continued to dangle a carrot before officers even as more were dying with each passing day. He needs to come to terms with the fact that moral suasion – an inappropriate tactic from the start – is not working well enough.

Secondly, it is for Mr Jacob, and not the media, the Government or anyone else, to manage the affairs of the Police Service. In this regard, he would do well to exercise the powers vested in him to take urgent action to protect the welfare of his officers.

The Constitution empowers the top cop to manage his ranks to ensure the human resources under his command are effectively deployed.

That effective deployment cannot happen if officers are endangered by unvaccinated co-workers and members of the public, or large numbers of them suffer from comorbidities such as chronic lifestyle diseases.

In the end, unvaccinated police officers are the ones posing the biggest threat to their fellow officers. It is this situation, and not the media, at which Mr Jacob should take aim.


"Jacob’s blame game"

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