|COPS OWE $.7M |
NALINEE SEELAL Monday, April 17 2017
ABOUT 1,000 people are owed money — amounting to over $700,000 — by Western Division police, after they paid officers to carry out extra duties at fetes, shows and other public events, but the lawmen either never showed up or did not arrive in the numbers paid for.
The cash remains locked away inside a vault at St James police station and is under the direct control of the Extra Duty clerk. The money represents payments made to at least five Senior Superintendents, who headed this Division, over a five-year period.
Extra duty is defined as a police officer attending a privately-arranged, public event such as a party, a sports event, weddings, graduations and fetes in order to maintain law and order among the gathering. Officers are paid out of an Extra Duties Fund. Monies are paid up-front by the organiser of an event and payment is then disbursed by a senior officer, to officers who worked at said event.
A police constable is paid $65 per hour while on extra duty.
A Corporal is paid $79, a Sergeant $96, Inspectors $111, Assistant Superintendents (ASP) $124, a Superintendent (Supt) $133, Senior Superintendents (Snr Supt) $151 and an Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) is paid $181 for every hour he/she works extra duty. Many people who paid varying sums to have police attend their events and perform extra duty later complained to the Western Division head that officers hired either did not attend or did not show up in the numbers paid for. These people, Newsday was told, were supposed to be refunded once proving their claims.
However, under the stewardship of five Snr Supts, the money owed was not repaid and remains in the safe despite a clear directive from Acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams, for Western Division police to do so.
In June 2015, Fraud Squad police led by Snr Supt Totaram Dookhie raided St James police station after officers of that station observed certain discrepancies with “overtime” forms where claims were being made for scheduled extra duties which were never completed. These claims, which were paid from the Extra Duties Fund, resulted in some officers receiving as much as $30,000 a month in extra duty.
Snr Supt Dookhie and his team seized documents which were forwarded to the Police Finance Branch for further investigations.
The Finance Branch gave a directive that all monies collected from the public, as payment for extra duties which never materialised, be repaid immediately.
This order was ignored.
Last week, Wendy Wilkinson took over as new Snr Supt in charge of all police stations within Western Division.
Under her direction, an effort is now being made to contact the 1,000 people who are owed so they can come to the St James police station with their receipts and supporting documents, to be reimbursed.
Contacted for comment, president of the Police Social Welfare Association (PSWA) Insp Michael Seales expressed surprise when told of this issue where $700,000 is owed to the public by police but remains locked away. He said if the Police Commissioner gave an instruction to return the money, it should have been carried out immediately.
“I don’t have details as to why those instructions were not acted upon and it warrants fresh intervention by the Acting Commissioner because these things are suspect and given the raid by Fraud Squad two years on St James Police Station, if not dealt with, can tarnish the image of the Police Service,” Insp Seales said. Efforts to contact Ag Commissioner Williams, over the extended Easter weekend, for a comment have proven futile.