By Emmanuel Joseph
Police welfare associations in Barbados and several other regional countries want shorter working hours and better pay for officers.
Speaking at the 11th annual general meeting of the Caribbean Federation of Police Welfare Associations (CFPWA) in St Lucia on Thursday, Vice President Sean McCall made the call as he charged that “police are overworked and underpaid”.
“We do a very dangerous job. No matter how you look at it, you say goodbye to your families in the morning and you have no clue if you are going to come back home in one piece,” he said.
“Not only that, police are working more than 40 hours per week. That is unheard of in 2023, and our commissioners have to sit down with us and address these things.
“For instance, what if an officer is on the job 12, 13, 14 hours, doing more than 40 hours a week and he has an error of judgement, will the commissioner take that responsibility, or would he leave that officer at the mercy of the courts?” the senior CFPWA official added.
He said these are the kinds of issues for which member associations – from Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada, Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Dominica, St Lucia, St Kitts and Nevis and the British Virgin Islands – are advocating.
McCall argued that if police officers are treated well by authorities, their service delivery to the public would be “A1”.
Meanwhile, president of the St Lucia Police Association Cameron Laure raised a concern about sexual harassment within the police service.
“For us as a welfare association in St Lucia, one of the things we want to see happen is a sexual harassment policy for the St Lucia Police Force. We really feel it is time women feel safe in the work environment. So we will be pushing that agenda here at this conference,” he asserted.
Laure said he had spoken with colleagues from some other Caribbean states who informed him that while their territories had such a policy, it had not yet been implemented.
“I am hoping that this could be a mainstay here at this conference and coming out of it, at least we would have some kind of draft policy for our welfare association to present to our commissioner of police,” he said.
President of the Police Association of Barbados Mervyn Grace is representing the local constabulary at the conference which ended on Friday with the election of a new executive.