The President of the Barbados Police Association (BPA) Mervin Grace today served notice on Government that its members were about to “cease requesting and start demanding” their just due, while complaining the island’s police officers had not enjoyed a salary increase in almost a decade.
“It is high time that they are granted a salary increase,” he told the annual general meeting of the association at the Prince Cave Hall, District ‘A’, Station Hill, St Michael this morning, while stressing that officers gave of their best each day without adequate remuneration and allowances.
“Therefore, the year ahead will be one of demands for better remuneration and allowances for the rank and file of the Royal Barbados Police Force,” the police spokesman said before an audience that included Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite and Commissioner Tyrone Griffith.
Of equal concern to Grace is the issue of trade union status for the BPA, a matter which he said had been outstanding for years.
“The Police Association continues to battle with the right to associate with trade unions and as such, held a number of meetings over the years with the Attorney General, the Commissioner of Police and other stakeholders.
“After all of these meetings, there is no definitive answer on the issue,” he said, while warning that the matter must be put to rest in the very near future.
“If you refuse us our right, you must compensate us,” he added.
The police spokesman also took the Force’s high command to task over its tardiness in presenting awards and commendations to officers who have served selflessly.
In fact, he reported that not a single police officer had been issued with Barbados Service Medals since 2014, despite recommendations and approvals for this to occur.
“This is an indictment that needs to be rectified immediately. Some members of the Force whose names appeared in the list have since retired and have not received their service medals to date,” Grace complained, while looking in the direction of the police chief as he appealed for deserving officers to be rewarded as soon as possible.
The association president, while praising Government for providing improved accommodation for officers in areas such as the Criminal Investigations Department, also called for the 200 vacancies in the Force to be filled urgently, as well as for the appointment of officers in acting positions, ranging from sergeant to deputy commissioner of police.
In response, Brathwaite told the officers he could not say when they would get a salary hike, but reminded them that he had used his offices to help them in the past in whatever ways were possible.
He however agreed with Grace that the hierarchy of the Force must do better in rewarding its officers and that efforts should be made to speed up the promotions process, even as cautioned that an officer with a Master’s Degree was not necessarily suited to lead the Force.
Brathwaite also suggested the use of civilians in non-crime fighting positions, as a means of freeing up police officers for more serious duties. However, he was adamant that these civilians must be subjected to the same rules and discipline as the trained lawmen.
When his time came at the podium, Commissioner Griffith accused unnamed persons of using his officers as scapegoats for the inordinate delays in the judicial process here.
However, he warned that on this issue “there is a lot of blame to be apportioned everywhere”, while pointing out that there were “many very serious matters before the court where there are files many years old that are not being addressed”.
“I think we need to be fair if we are to address the whole issue of delays in the court system,” he said.
On the issue of the 200 vacancies in the Force, Griffith was not optimistic that they would be filled in the foreseeable future.
However, he praised his men and women for outstanding work, arguing that the local constabulary had been able to better manage crime than its Caribbean neighbours, including Grenada, which up until recently, had the lowest murder toll in the region.