‘They all call me Mama J’ Inspector Johnson is a cop with a motherly touch
Although she has no biological child of her own, police inspector Tanecia Johnson has been a mother to a host of children, both in her personal and professional life.
On any given day, her house is occupied by children who turn up for various reasons such as lunch money, temporary residence and for advice on some of their most difficult life challenges. She said that, since joining the police force in 2004, she has had a direct impact on the lives of more than 80 children, many of whom are without a parental figure in their lives.
"I just have a natural love for children," said the 44-year-old who hails from Islington, St Mary.
She said the fact that she has not borne any children does not take away from the fact that she has been a mother to many. She said that she has never felt left out on Mother's Day celebrations, as her children often go the extra mile to show her their appreciation.
"I am not one of those adults who doesn't have a biological child and get all sad because 'oh today is Mother's Day'. I don't feel left out. It is a day where I feel honoured. Why? Because all my children, they'll call me up - [and] sometimes I have to be dodging calls - and shower me with gifts. They all call me Mama J," she said.
Currently, the national coordinator of the Jamaica Constabulary Force's Safe Schools Programme, Johnson oversees 174 school resource officers and 49 school liaison officers, whose tasks are to assist school administrators in preventing truancy and to ensure the school environment is safe for learning. She said that it is an honour for her to be entrusted with the task of caring and protecting the nation's children.
"I can tell you, when you impact that one child, and they continue to keep you abreast of what is happening in their lives, trust me, when the month ends, you don't need the salary," Johnson said.
She related the story of one of her children whose life she has positively impacted.
"I remember, some years ago, I had a quick encounter with a young boy downtown Kingston. He was there doing his thing in the bus park, parking vehicles. So I started to encourage him to go back to school and he said to me, 'Miss, mi nuh have any money for that enuh miss'. So I told him that I would work something out. I paid for his subjects and now he is fully employed at Kingston Wharves. It is a very rewarding and enriching feeling," she said.
Johnson said that she was raised in a poor setting in St Mary by her mother, but did not allow her situation to get the best of her. She is currently reading for a doctorate in business management, having already secured a first degree in literature in English and a master's degree in management studies, not too shabby for a woman who left high school with only one CXC.
The loving law woman reasoned that the role played by mothers in raising their children is vital to the development of a civil and successful society.
"We are foundations, so please, play your role," she urged mothers. "Listen to your child, listen to your children, love your children. You are role models. Hug them, but, most importantly teach your children about their identity."
"Talk to them about their purpose, the importance of having a good attitude. Encourage them to have good destiny and, more so, to be respectful. Because it doesn't matter how many letters you have behind your name, if there is no good mannerism, then it makes no sense. And if, as mothers, we continue to mould and grow, our school, communities and wider society will be impacted in a positive way," Johnson said.