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Cops won’t work in Child Unit

By JULIEN NEAVES Tuesday, April 8 2014

POLICE Social and Welfare Association (PSWA) president Acting Inspector Anand Ramesar said its members have been advised not to apply to the Child Protection Unit, announced by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar in February to deal with underage sex offences following a report of 2,500 teenage pregnancies annually, until salary negotiations have been sorted out.

He also reported that some members are “asking to see the back” of Acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams due to delays in treating with a document to improve the promotion system.

Ramesar raised the issues yesterday during a media conference at the PSWA offices at the Besson Street Police Station, Port-of-Spain.

Association Secretary Michael Seales noted, since December 31, 2013 a salary proposal was submitted to the Chief Personnel Officer (CPO) and since that time they have had no response. He noted for the previous negotiation Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar had to instruct the then Finance Minister Winston Dookeran to commence negotiations, and the Association is calling on her to do the same now with Finance Minister Larry Howai to “begin negotiations immediately”.

Ramesar said the issue of negotiation is impacting a lot of important developments including an effort to bring about a police team to support the Children’s Unit.

He reported that the membership “has taken a position that they are not going to make themselves available for it” and the PSWA have advised members “to refrain from applying for these positions until that issue has been settled”.

Ramesar explained that in other areas police officers are performing duties for which they are not compensated, but the current salary proposal will deal with these issues.

“So that if you want the police support in relation to moving with your Children’s Authority Unit you need to deal with the salary negotiation because you cannot go now and recruit police officers and ask them to perform in different skills and demonstrate different knowledge bases for which they are not being compensated,” he said.

Questioned whether the officers would be abdicating their responsibility Ramesar said it was an issue of employer responsibility.

Ramesar said the other issue is that of promotions and reported that several documents on promotions were sent over the past year-and-a-half to implement new criteria.

He noted the Association met with Williams and National Security Minister Gary Griffith a month ago, and Williams had asked for time to identify the amendments to the legislation.

Ramesar noted, however, that three weeks have passed and the Association and membership feel like they have been “mamaguyed”. Seales said the officers also feel a level of betrayal noting that the membership made a decision in March to set aside their concerns and selflessly work during the Carnival period and expected some “reciprocity”.

“A lot of neglect, a lot of pain,” he added.

Ramesar said if the Commissioner lacked the energy or necessary confidence then he should let someone else lead the service.

He also reported that a lot of officers were demoralised and have been taking vacation leave.

“If the Commissioner of Police and his executive are not mindful of what is happening we are at the head of what could be a very explosive situation that is bad for the Police Service, that is bad for performance, but we hope that good sense will prevail, we hope that the Commissioner of Police would be true to his word,” he said.

“Notwithstanding that he is very late, (we expect) that he would forward the document to the Minister of National Security who has given a commitment to deal with it expeditiously,” he said. Other concerns included: the extra duty rate still at the 2007 rate because the Commissioner had not forwarded the documentation approved by Cabinet to the National Security Permanent Secretary; several members of the Port-of-Spain CID have been asking for monies owed since 2009; incentive allowance for Carnival and payment for Special Reserve Officers still unpaid.

Seales noted despite the Commissioner’s boasts about the performance of the police the Association still believes they are underperforming due to low morale. Ramesar said if their issues are attended to the population will get a “better working police service”.

When Newsday contacted Williams yesterday by telephone he was in a meeting. Subsequent calls were not answered.

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