Hungry cops belch rage in lockdown
The Jamaica Police Federation says rank-and-file members are now restive after welfare support was slashed for personnel on duty during the coronavirus lockdown, with a single meal per day for patrolling cops while others fended for themselves.
The Government imposed seven days of no movement – the last scheduled for Sunday, September 5 – to curtail the rapid rise in COVID-19 cases, with infections topping 68,100.
Security personnel lamented difficulties in procuring meals outside of the E-commerce National Delivery System (ENDS) – a government-backed digital platform authorising deliveries to customers making electronic purchases, with a surcharge applied for the service.
Senior Superintendent of Police Stephanie Lindsay, head of the police information arm, said the commissioner's office was not aware of an issue affecting the lawmen.
However, federation chairman, Corporal Rohan James, said that the benefit should not have been withheld from personnel in the 19 police divisions, especially with businesses shuttered. He also pushed back at suggestions that officers should access meals through ENDS.
“The federation is peeved at the absurdity that no provision was put in place during the lockdown period to facilitate officers on duty manning these lockdowns to be able to access meals,” James said in an interview with The Gleaner.
“... What is more absurd for the federation is the fact that officers are being asked to trust individuals with transporting our meals, under the ENDS, when we know that some of these individuals don't like the police,” he added.
Some cops on duty said that they solicited community shops and pleaded with operators to break the law and sell them food.
“What this has forced us to do is to go knock up residents who might have their businesses near their homes to sell us something to eat,” said one sub-officer in Area Four, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“The first set of lockdowns last year, we were getting food three times per day, but now they are saying it can only be once per day and only for the patrols.”
But officers in some divisions were not aware that the benefit was being offered.
“I was not aware that we were supposed to be getting support with meals, and it has been challenging because nowhere is open for business, and sometimes we have to be doing a double shift,” said another policeman in Area Two.