Former T&T Guardian photographer Lester Forde died last Friday at the Port-of-Spain General Hospital.
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Police cyclists plan to park up over $$ row
Police motorcyclists plan to park up their machines today in a sign of protest over improper safety equipment and the failure of the acting Commissioner of Police to pay them a special allowance for the risk they face. As a result, alternative arrangements may have to be made to provide escort duties for some of the nation’s top office-holders and other dignitaries. A spokesman for the group of 30 officers, some of whom also are assigned to the Highway Patrol Unit, said the unit has been plagued by a series of problems, ranging from officers being forced to use faulty helmets to poor management.
Repeated requests for a risk and commuted allowance have been rejected by acting Commissioner Stephen Williams, the spokesman added. “This Friday we have chosen to rest and reflect on the things that have the morale in this section to an all time low. “This is by no way to disrupt the duties but it is necessary for our cause,” the officer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said. He described the cyclists as one of the few “elite” sections of the Police Service who continued to risk their limbs and lives without any gratitude even from the top management of the service. He added: “They can put us to work anywhere but you can't take anybody to do what we do. “We put our lives at risk everyday to ensure that dignitaries reach their destination safely and if one should fall during an escort the convoy continues to proceed as required.”
He said there were presently five officers on injury leave while others called in sick from time-to-time rather than report to work to be frustrated. The officer said morale of the unit was further deteriorated when they learned their colleagues from the Mounted Branch received special allowances. “We have requested a risk or commuted allowance for our section but that was turned down by the Commissioner of Police. Our colleagues at Mounted Branch and the Canine Division are getting an allowance and they are not exposed to the many hazards on the nation's roads and other dangers as we are. “We have continually tried to get this allowance to no avail. It seems the commissioner and the association do not value our service,” the officer added. He said police motorcyclists have chosen to ride only because of the love of it and dedication to duty and country but they have had enough. Claims of poor management of the unit also were levelled against a particular senior officer, who holds the rank of above corporal. “That particular senior officer has the morale of the men very low. There is a junior female and a senior male corporal who just don't know how to speak to juniors,” the spokesman said. On the issue of equipment, he said officers have been using defective helmets for over the past eight months and were still waiting for them to be replaced.