Police welfare on front burner
The Government has committed to strengthening the welfare benefits available to the country’s more than 11,000 policemen and women.
Addressing rank-and-file members represented by the Jamaica Police Federation (JPF) during the union’s JN Group-sponsored annual conference in St Ann on May 29, Minister of National Security Dr Horace Chang announced that a protocol will be established in the nation’s hospitals to ensure that injured police personnel are attended to without delay when taken for treatment.
The need for the protocol arose after news emerged that a CT scan for the sergeant who was injured during a robbery in May Pen, Clarendon, two Sundays ago was delayed while he was being treated in hospital.
“This officer, who was in uniform, had to wait for 55 minutes to get the appropriate diagnostic tests done,” Chang revealed, because money to finance the tests was not confirmed.
A businessman offered to pay for the officer’s tests, he disclosed; however, the chairman of the JPF, Corporal Arleen McBean, said the tests were eventually financed by the JPF’s welfare arm.
“There are a number of things wrong with that. First, the delay is not only somewhat uncomfortable and disrespectful to the officers, but it’s a life-threatening delay,” Chang said.
The policeman was hit in the abdomen and the pelvis but did not suffer injury to his vital organs, the minister disclosed. However, Chang said that an unwarranted delay in receiving treatment could have resulted in further injuries to the officer.
“Secondly, if he had to await payment by a businessman … , when he returned from hospital and was rehabilitated, if he showed that businessman any favour, which is only human, the first thing you say is that the man is now corrupt,” he said.
Chang said that the minister of health and wellness has been advised of the new protocol.
“It cannot be right to have [police]men and women facing the kind of gunmen we have in Jamaica and when they get injured and get to a hospital, questions are asked how they are treated. That must discontinue while I’m minister of national security,” he declared.
FULL MEDICAL INSURANCE
Chang was supported by Prime Minister Andrew Holness, who revealed, during his address to rank-and-file members, that discussions are taking place with Commissioner of Police Major General Antony Anderson to provide full medical insurance coverage to the police.
“This is something we have to look at because other [police] forces have full coverage. And I believe this is not outside of the capacity of the Government to address,” he told members to applause.
He also committed to contributing to, through his personal foundation, providing access to gyms across the country to assist police personnel to maintain their personal fitness and health.
The prime minister said that a welfare department is to be established for rank-and-file members as part of the transformation of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF). He said if the JCF is to be “a force for good”, it must address the welfare of its members and not leave the function solely to the Police Federation.
“Part of the management function of the JCF is that it should take care of the welfare of its members,” the prime minister said, noting that by addressing the welfare of its members, the JCF will be better positioned to motivate the rank and file.
“When you identify with an organisation, you identify with it because you feel that the organisation represents you,” he said.