Tue | Sep 29, 2020

Police pain - Cops lament dislocation caused by use of transfers as ‘punishment’

Published:Tuesday | December 31, 2019 | 12:43 AMLivern Barrett/Senior Staff Reporter

A female cop who resides in St Elizabeth with her young child and assigned duties in Hanover went to her union to complain after she learnt recently from her commanding officer that she was being transferred to Kingston.

Sergeant Patrae Rowe, chairman of the Police Federation, which represents police personnel below the rank of Inspector, said the cop was convinced that her commanding officer “did not give due consideration to her welfare and her ability to properly take care of her child”.

Rowe believes her decision to seek the intervention of the union sealed the young cop’s fate.

“We called the commanding officer regarding the redeployment and asked that the member’s welfare be considered. The commanding officer was offended that the member called the federation and redeployed the member to Kingston,” he recounted yesterday.

The cop has since relocated to Kingston, Rowe said, while her case is being reviewed by Police Commissioner Major General Antony Anderson.

“We made arrangements for the officer to be placed at a location that is convenient to attending to her child,” Rowe said.

Conversely, Rowe related the case of a male cop who complained to him yesterday that three months ago, his wife, who is also a serving member of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), requested a transfer from Clarendon to Kingston “so she could be closer to her family.”

“She has not heard anything, nothing has been done in respect of the application, and it is affecting their family life,” he recounted of the cop’s complaint.

Salary wiped out

Further, Rowe pointed to the case of another male cop who described how his monthly salary is wiped out by the cost of transportation to and from work.

“He lives in Manchester and works in Spanish Town. The commute across parishes incurs expenditure monthly that renders him unable to sustain himself on the job for a month. He has applied for a transfer, but little to no attention has been given to his request,” he charged.

Process too subjective

Rowe acknowledged that transfers and approvals for vacation leave, in some instances, are the prerogative of commanding officers. He noted, too, that Section 67 of the Constabulary Force Act bars the union from intervening in “matters related to transfers, promotion and discipline unless there is a breach of principle”.

He, however, insisted that the daily complaints by rank-and-file cops are clear examples of how police commanders use transfers and leave approvals to punish subordinates. According to Rowe, the complaints are also proof that the administrative processes are “open to too much subjectivity”.

He said that despite countless appeals to the Police High Command, the issues remain unresolved.

“There have been exhaustive cases of representation on this issue and the High Command has promised to address them,” he told The Gleaner.

The police union boss set off a firestorm within the JCF yesterday when he first made the claims in a story published in this newspaper.

Superintendent Wayne Cameron, president of the Police Officers Association (POA), which represents senior cops above the rank of sergeant, told The Gleaner that he was “surprised by the article itself”.

However, Cameron said he could not comment on the claims because the executive of the POA had not yet discussed them.

““We will be looking at them first thing in the morning (today) to decide the way forward,” Cameron said.

The Police High Command yesterday said it had no comment on the allegations.

livern.barrett@gleanerjm.com