Ian K Ramdhanie, msC,
The decision to suspend all leave indefinitely will cause havoc on the physical and mental well-being of policemen who are already poorly compensated, says president of the Police Service Social and Welfare Association acting Insp Anand Ramesar. He is calling for an immediate performance audit into the management of the Police Service, saying the issue was not more officers on the streets but rather how they are being managed by the top brass.
He added: “The issue is not giving police more resources, it is one of proper management. “The association believes if the Prime Minister looks at what is happening internally in the Police Service, she would mitigate the disenchantment that is happening now.” Ramesar was responding to statements by the PM, who said no officer, from top to bottom, would be entitled to vacation now.
At an emergency meeting with members of the National Security Council, Persad-Bissessar said that measure was the latest in a string of anti-crime initiatives by the Government in the wake of the spike in violent crimes and murders in the new year. Saying Persad-Bissessar’s decision was “not sitting well with the membership,” Ramesar added policemen “feel oppressed.”
He said that was because many officers had applied for leave since last December but were denied it, owing to the increase in police activities during the Christmas period. “This would mean officers would have had to bring their leave forward in January but all their plans have been dashed. “They are now confronted by a situation with no leave at all and this has caused serious concern and disenchantment,” Ramesar added.
He said the Police Service owed “hundreds” of officers money as a result of their being called out from vacation to work. “The association has written the acting Commissioner of Police many times to have the issue addressed and to date this has not been done. Clearly it remains an issue and it is going to affect performance,” Ramesar added. Saying Carnival was right around the corner, he said that was a time when officers had to work extra duty.
“What this could result in is few officers being assigned to functions. So if there were nine officers assigned to a fete, that number would now be decreased,” Ramesar added. He said he was disappointed that before the decision was made to freeze leave, the association was not consulted. Ramesar added: “In a matter like this, good industrial relations practice would require there ought to be consultation with the association, especially when it comes to altering the terms and conditions of employment of police officers.
We take this issue very seriously.” Asked if he believed the move to suspend leave could result in officers staying away from duty, Ramesar said no officer would deliberately do so. He said, however, if an officer was sick or burnt out then that person might want to get some rest. While the association threw its support behind Persad- Bissessar in the fight against crime, Ramesar said it intended to write to ask to meet with her.
He added: “Her decision has caused a high level of dissatisfaction among officers and this cannot continue. “Every time something goes wrong, you call police officers out and they continue to be burnt out.” The association is expected to meet with its membership today at the Besson Street Police Station, Portof- Spain.