The recent tragic incident in Freetown, where an individual likely suffering from mental illness, known as “Big Fish,” was shot and killed by a military personnel, has brought to light several pressing systemic issues that demand our immediate attention. While it is important to acknowledge the bravery and patience displayed by the military personnel involved, it is essential to delve deeper into the underlying problems that have come to the forefront.
The fact that by the admission of police in their statement a notorious criminal was freely roaming the streets of Freetown raises serious questions about the efficacy of our law enforcement agencies. We must consider implementing stronger oversight mechanisms to ensure that known criminals are apprehended and monitored effectively.
The absence of mechanisms to identify individuals suffering from mental illness is another glaring issue. We must prioritize mental health awareness campaigns and training for law enforcement personnel to recognize signs of mental distress. Additionally, the establishment of crisis intervention teams comprising mental health professionals and police officers can help de-escalate situations involving individuals in crisis without resorting to lethal force.
The disturbing public celebration following the shooting of “Big Fish” underscores a deep-seated problem within our society. We need to address this culture of violence and aggression. Big Fish was shot dead on International Peace Day. Promoting peaceful conflict resolution, empathy, and community engagement can be effective tools in changing societal attitudes toward violence.
The insensitivity displayed by those recording the incident is a stark reminder of our collective failure to empathize with those who need help the most. We should encourage programmes and initiatives that foster empathy, educate the public about mental health issues, and provide resources for individuals and families grappling with mental health challenges.
To tackle these systemic issues, comprehensive police force reform is essential. This includes investing in training, equipment, and technology for law enforcement agencies, as well as enhancing their capacity to address a broad spectrum of issues, from mental health crises to organized crime.
We must improve accountability mechanisms to ensure that officers who engage in misconduct are held responsible and ensure community policing practices that build trust and rapport between law enforcement. and the communities they serve.
This tragic incident should serve as a wake-up call for our society. We must confront the systemic issues that have been exposed, and we should do so with a commitment to change. By addressing these problems head-on, we can work toward building a more empathetic, compassionate, and safer society for all.