Mon | Jan 20, 2020

‘Cup soup and crackers’ - Mobile Reserve cops deployed out west battle hunger spells after stipends unpaid

Published:Tuesday | January 14, 2020 | 12:26 AM

Some members of the Special Operations Branch, formerly the Mobile Reserve, have raised alarm over money allegedly owed for support to police efforts in St James, which is under a state of public emergency.

Approximately 33 trainees and police officers departed Kingston to take up duties in the western parish on December 14.

Our news team gathered that the policemen were told they would be paid a supplemental of $1,500 a day.

“We working five days and getting paid for three. It’s not a JCF problem, it’s a Special Operations Branch problem. No money nuh turn over. Bare promises, promises, promises,” a policeman told The Gleaner.

“They said we would get a cheque, and no cheque. We away from home, so we have a lot of bills, especially for food.”

His name has been withheld because he could be sanctioned for speaking to the press without authorisation.

The pressure, The Gleaner understands, extends to trainees whose pay is smaller than that of regular police personnel.

“The money is finished. We have to be trusting food. From December, we got paid a week earlier, and between rent, children and the holiday past, January pay, it’s a long time before we get that. Everybody bill is skyrocketing,” a trainee who also requested anonymity told The Gleaner.

The policemen lamented that they were forced to stock up on spiced buns and cup soups to plug their hunger spells.

“The regular police a feel it, you know, but it’s rougher on the trainees. ... We already underpaid and not getting the money we are entitled to,” a trainee said.

FEEL LIKE “OUTCASTS”

The living arrangements for the deployed cops, who stay in Falmouth, were another bone of contention. They protested conditions that made them feel like “outcasts”.

The cops are recommending that the force take charge of the food bill.

“Cup soup and crackers when the money a run out, and we don’t have families down here. Nothing is forthcoming, and it’s better a man tell you straight to hold strain than promise,” a policeman told The Gleaner.

When contacted, head of the police Corporate Communications Unit, Senior Superintendent Stephanie Lindsay, said she was not in a position to speak on matters relating to payments, which are handled by the Ministry of National Security.

Lindsay said that the police should raise the issue with the force’s welfare officer.

andre.williams@gleanerjm.com