Tue | Nov 30, 2021

‘Nobody nuh badda than we!’

Police union throws down gauntlet to Government as salary row heats up

Published:Tuesday | November 23, 2021 | 12:11 AM
Corporal Rohan James
Corporal Rohan James

Describing the recent wage offer made by the Government as an attempt to rob rank-and-file members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), Police Federation Chairman Corporal Rohan James has warned that demoralised law enforcers could not provide high-level service to the country.

He has also lambasted the Cabinet for reneging on its responsibility to provide sufficient legal aid assistance to police personnel who have been prosecuted for on-duty allegations.

Speaking to The Gleaner via telephone on Monday, James took issue with Justice Minister Delroy Chuck’s overtures in Parliament on the budgetary provision for legal aid for alleged gangsters.

James did not cite specific cases, but his comments appeared to reference recent trials of dozens of alleged criminals under the anti-gang legislation.

Taxpayers paid $55 million in legal fees for accused members of the Uchence Wilson Gang, and attorney fees for the 33 people indicted in the Clansman-One Don gang trial were initially estimated to cost $50 million. But after appeals by legal aid lawyers that the sums were not enough, that bill is set to balloon as the trial progresses.

“I am not saying that anybody is guilty, I am not ascribing that. But I am saying, be balanced, be just, be respectful. We want our cut. We earn it,” said a fuming James.

“Every aspect of legal aid has seen significant increases, but my police officers, whom the Cabinet makes a determination to a cabinet submission, they have not done what they are supposed to do.”

As at Monday, the federation chairman said that 34 police personnel were in limbo, as their lawyers have threatened to withdraw their service “because the Government has not honoured its obligation”.

Addressing federation members on Friday during a commemorative service in Kingston to honour the memory of those fallen in the line of duty, James said that the Government’s insistence on sticking by its four per cent salary hike offer was abusive and unacceptable.

James was militant as he warned the Holness administration that the Government had pitted itself against the police.

“The Government has determined that we are at war, and it is best for us to war in the interest of the people. ... We nuh frighten fi nobody,” he said.

“Nobody nuh bigger than we. Nobody nuh badda than we. Di uncaring nature of our employer is seen through the eyes of the people of this country.”

He said he would be dispatching an open letter to the minister of national security and also the minister of finance outlining their concerns. That correspondence will also reference police agitation over their appeal for a 40-hour workweek.

gareth.davis@gleanerjm.com