Mon | Sep 28, 2020

POA insists on special compensation for officers in hazardous divisions

Published:Saturday | August 8, 2020 | 12:00 AM
Senior Superintendent Wayne Cameron speaking at the funeral of Superintendent Leon Clunis earlier today.

President of the Police Officers' Association (POA), Senior Superintendent Wayne Cameron, is again calling for special compensation for officers working in police divisions considered high risk. 

Speaking at the funeral for Superintendent Leon Clunis, who died weeks after being shot in the June 12 attack on the police in Horizon Park, St Catherine, Cameron announced that the POA will be placing the item back on the table for negotiation for the upcoming contract period. 

"On two occasions we went to the bargaining table, the 2015 to 2017 contract period and 2017 to 2021 contract period, the POA negotiated for what we call hazard or hard risk allowance. This allowance was negotiated on the premise that some of our divisions are very violent," he said, naming the divisions. The divisions are: Westmoreland, St James, Clarendon, Kingston Western, St Andrew South and St Catherine North, where Clunis was shot and two other policemen under his command - 26-year-old Constable Decardo Hylton and 32-year-old  Detective Corporal Dane Biggs, were killed. 

Cameron himself leads the St Andrew South Division. 

"On both occasions, the items of claim for a special remuneration for officers serving in these conditions was not countenanced," he said. "Ministers, our next contract period approaches. Rest assured that the POA will be returning to the negotiation table with this allowance," he challenged Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Olivia Grange and Minister of State in the Ministry of National Security, Senator Matthew Samuda, who were representing the prime minister and minister of national security, respectively. 

"In fact, ministers, we believe officers who command geographical divisions should be specially compensated, because any divisional commander will agree that it takes special types of persons to manage at that level," Cameron added. 

"It calls upon your entire being, which sometimes spills over into your relationship at home," he said.

He also made the case for better pension benefits.

"Our political administrators incrementally whittle away at our hard-earned benefits, even into retirement," he continued, arguing that the current pension fund calculation leaves officers worse off at retirement than other public servants in the same category of employment.

He said irrespective of the high stress levels of the job, the police have had to fight to maintain certain retirement benefits, such as service pay, which he said is not included in the pension calculation for officers.  

Police abused consistently

The POA president bemoaned that the police continue to consistently suffer abuse from the public and the State. 

"The police have suffered years of abuse by our own people, including those who we report to in the political administration," he said. 

He pointed to social media comments following the Horizon Park attack, lauding the gunman for "taking a few police souls with him".

"I will use this platform to appeal to law-abiding citizens to repel this trend not only because Jamaica is vulnerable to criminality, but also because your police officers are that line of defence between you and hardened criminals," he warned. 

Director of Public Prosecutions Paula Llewellyn, in her tribute before Cameron, also defended the police. 

"A lot of persons out there sometimes, uninformed commentators I call them, are not aware of the sacrifice that police officers give in service of their country. And the families give a sacrifice," she commented.   

Police welcome monument for slain cops

Meanwhile, Cameron and president of the Jamaica Police Federation, Patrae Rowe, welcomed an announcement by Grange at the funeral for a monument to be erected in remembrance of policemen and policewomen who have been killed in the line of duty. Cameron also thanked the Government for conferring, posthumously, Clunis, Biggs and Hylton with the Medal of Honour for Gallantry. However, he wants more.

"That the education fund between the POA and the Government be expanded and a scholarship be sculpted from it in the name of Leon Clunis for the children of police officers who excel at the secondary and tertiary level," Cameron recommended. 

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