Police officers: stop taking us for granted
Police officers urged the Government to stop taking them for granted after an emergency meeting yesterday to discuss negotiations about conditions.
The Bermuda Police Association said its members were committed to providing a “first-class service” but that a stalemate in talks risked job satisfaction and national security.
Sergeant Andrew Harewood, the chairman, said officers were considering whether they should continue to take on roles that increased personal liability such as firearms work, high-speed responses, police dog handling and bomb disposal.
He explained that the organisation was seeking clarity after the BPA was advised that some outstanding matters in negotiations were expected to be referred to the labour relations section for settlement by conciliation.
He said that the issues included legal cover for police officers who become the subject of an investigation into an incident in the course of their duties and healthcare contributions.
Mr Harewood added in his statement that the BPA wanted an explanation about why a partial agreement “negotiated in good faith” over the past 18 months was not honoured.
He claimed that the Government had refused to follow through on a tribunal award more than ten years ago to fund legal expenses for officers charged over criminal matters.
Mr Harewood said: “We are very concerned about the way Government is dealing with this matter and the fact that their actions have the potential of causing a dissatisfied police service, creating severe issues for national security.
“We urge the Government of Bermuda to stop taking the members of the BPA for granted.
“The members of the BPA remain committed to providing a first-class service to the people of Bermuda.
“Every day we are expected to put our lives on the line on behalf of the Government to keep the people of Bermuda safe, while others have the privilege to run away.
“If we are fortunate enough to survive those dangerous situations we often face, we believe that it is reasonable and necessary for the Government to cover our legal and medical expenses.
“The BPA remains committed to protecting the public and hope to resolve these issues by good-faith negotiations without having to resort to arbitration.”
Mr Harewood added that if officers felt a lack of funding for legal cover and healthcare affected their “critical decision-making”, the association's members would “have no choice but to reduce the risk to themselves”.
Wayne Caines, the Minister of National Security, said last night that the issues raised by Mr Harewood had been part of discussions that involved the public sector negotiation team that had “come to an impasse”.
Mr Caines added: “The outstanding issues have been referred to conciliation. We must now follow due process.
“It is improper to try and resolve the matters in the press.
“We value the work of all of the members of the Bermuda Police Service and we hope we can have the matter resolved as soon as it is practicable.”