In the last few weeks, residents of Estevan – and people across the country – have dealt with the passing of someone who was one of the best citizens our city had to call our own.
Jay Pierson touched more people’s lives than we will ever realize, as a friend, a relative, an acquaintance, a police officer, a board member and an advocate. Every story that has been told since his passing has, at its core, been the same.
These stories speak to his friendliness, his dedication, his love of his son, his commitment to his job, his love of music, his love of sports and his support of the underdog. They also speak of his struggles, his fight through post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), his ongoing mental health journey, the profound changes in his personality and most upsetting – his mistreatment by the very people he needed in his corner to fight for him.
In a day and age when the world is torn between love and hate of police officers, Jay Pierson was everything good about law enforcement. He was a shining example of the brotherhood of law enforcement that always has each other’s back. The fact that at least two prominent members of his brotherhood failed him so spectacularly in his last few years is disgusting.
These officers thought they knew better than mental health professionals. When the courts ruled in his favour, they still considered appealing the case instead of stepping up and supporting their member.
And for what? What could possibly be gained by appealing the ruling? They had already done their best to tear him down, they had already gone against the words of medical professionals, and now they know more than the courts? All of this would be hard to digest for any one person on this journey, but knowing it about someone who – prior to his illness – was the best of the best in humanity, is appalling.
Like many, there are obviously concerns about the members remaining in our community. What happens should another officer face a PTSD diagnosis? Will they be left without the support needed? How will they be treated in the face of the same things that affected Jay’s life so profoundly? And what about our community? Should you, or me, or anyone else suffer a mental health episode that needs the involvement of law enforcement, led by people who so easily left one of their own in his time in need, what happens to us regular people? If the leadership can’t back one of their own, to me it sends a huge warning sign to every other resident of Estevan.
The loss of a good human being is hard even in the most normal situations. The loss of someone who suffered, someone who tried to fight his demons, someone who fought through the courts, someone who was abandoned by the very leadership tasked with supporting him is needless and heartbreaking.
That’s not leadership. It shouldn’t take the profound loss of someone like Jay for us demand changes. Jay deserved better. Estevan deserves far better.