GAY EX-COP’S LAST LAUGH
FEELING pressured to quit the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) because of his perceived sexuality, former constable turned PhD holder Deneil Christian says he is grateful for the “poor treatment” that pushed him to the United States.
Christian, a former Edwin Allen High School student who enrolled in the JCF in 2010, said he was transferred five times during his three-year stint as a rank and file member of the force.
Frustrated, he said he packed his bags for North America, where he sought asylum on grounds of his sexual orientation under a member of a social group. He identifies as gay.
Christian graduated last week from Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, with a doctorate in criminal justice.
“I faced a lot of issues in the JCF. I was transferred a couple of times. I first started at Mobile Reserve, but I voluntarily went to Mounted Troop, and then from there I was selected to go to the National Intelligence Bureau (formerly Special Branch). I was there for a while but then I was transferred from there back to Mobile Reserve. But I came under a lot of pressure at Mobile Reserve, and so I knew of someone who was working at the commissioner’s office and they had me transferred to the CCN (Constabulary Communication Network now Corporate Communications Unit)…” Christian told the Jamaica Observer in an interview on Thursday.
He told the Sunday Observer that he thought the division would have been a safe space; but it wasn’t.
Without reason, he said, he was transferred to the Traffic Division, referred for anger management, and was “forced” to see a social worker at the police academy. He insisted the referral was “unnecessary” and suggested that he was being victimised.
That final transfer, the 29-year-old man said, sent him over the edge and in 2013, he decided that he could no longer remain in an environment he believed was toxic and detrimental to his well-being.
“I recalled being called ‘dutty gyal Angella’ while I was in training at Mobile Reserve, and it got so bad that a higher ranking member of the force who was overseas at the time had to pull me from training. I was constantly referred to as a ‘fish’ by colleagues. It was always, ‘See the fish deh a come’ or ‘Watch da fish deh’. I was constantly called derogatory terms and always called out of my name.
“I was treated very poorly by supervisors and managers in the force and by colleagues because of my perceived sexual orientation. When I got to the Traffic Division I was just tired of it all — being back in that hostile environment. So, at that point I just decided that I needed to leave,” said Christian.
He told the Sunday Observer that he left for Pennsylvania, where he ended up staying with strangers after overstaying his visitor’s visa.
It was shortly after that the former lawman said he applied for and was granted asylum. A year later, he acquired his work authorisation permit and began working briefly in the police department of the University of Scranton as a civilian.
He said he then decided that he wanted to return to service as a police officer and applied to the New Orleans Police Department in Louisiana. He was successful and worked there briefly before returning to Pennsylvania, where he worked in juvenile justice.
This, he said, was done all while pursuing his Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice, which was funded out of pocket and through federal loans.
After completing this degree the Brandon Hill, Clarendon, native said he read for an MBA in general management.
“So after I got my MBA I decided that I was going to do my doctorate. It was always a dream to do my doctorate, but then I decided to go back for a second master’s before that. I earned that degree in criminal justice. It was after this that I was satisfied that I could go after my doctorate. In the fall of 2018 I enrolled at Liberty University, where I completed my PhD in Criminal Justice,” he shared, saying that he is the first person to complete a doctorate in the Helms School of Government at the university.
By this time, Christian said he was teaching criminal justice and business at a high school.
“So, I’m wrapping up my third year as a high school teacher. In August I’ll be moving to the US Virgin Islands where I’ll take up a position as an assistant professor of criminal justice at the University of the Virgin Islands,” he told the Sunday Observer.
The feeling, he said, of rising from a constable to a PhD holder is “overwhelming”.
“I always had the desire to achieve my doctorate, but now that it is a reality is just crazy. It’s a great feeling. It comes with increased respect; so many people have reached out to me. It’s just awesome. I’m the first person in my family to earn a PhD. I’m absolutely happy I left. I don’t know if I would have achieved as much as I have had I still been in Jamaica or the JCF,” said Christian.
At the same time, he is encouraging others who, he said, may be going through what he claimed to have gone through at the JCF to not become a victim of their circumstances.
“Don’t let your circumstances determine how far you’ll go or what you can accomplish, because your dreams, even if they are somewhat delayed, can be achieved. Keep the end goal in mind and always work towards it,” he said.
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