Police suffering Covid frontline burnout, appeal for more officers
More police are needed to help combat crime and help bolster a force feeling burnout and stress from two years of fighting on the Covid front line, according to the chairman of the Bermuda Police Association.
Kenten Trott said there had been no let up on officers for the past two years and that while that was the norm for frontline workers during the pandemic, extra resources would help to relieve the pressure.
Mr Trott, an inspector for the Bermuda Police Service, was speaking after the announcement that one in ten staff are absent as a result of the virus.
He said: “We have been going flat out for the last two years and it is having an effect.
“We took an oath to serve our community and we do it to the best of our ability but when one in ten of us are out, the rest of us have to fill in the gaps and it has an effect on our officers.
“We are thankful for employment and the opportunity to serve the community but we are also human beings. It has been two years of us, along with our partners in the fire and medical services and in the prisons – being on the front line. It doesn’t stop,
“Fortunately, we do have a good occupational health unit, which provides us with services related to welfare.”
Mr Trott said he believed that staffing contingency plans in place at the BPS were able to prevent the service becoming overwhelmed and that the easing of quarantine restrictions and other public health regulations would help the police to cope.
However, he said that extra officers would be a great advantage to the police and the community at large. Police recently appealed for extra funds to be allocated in February’s budget to help boost the numbers of officers.
The estimated police budget for 2021-22 was cut to $61,298,000. That was down from the revised level of police spending of $61,443,000 in 2020-21. The 2019-20 police budget was $64,220,000.
Police have also had to deal with an upsurge in gun crime during the past year, as well as an increased number of serious road accidents.
Mr Trott said: “When I first joined in 2007, we had about 480 staff, now we have about 380 and demands have increased in what we are required to do.
“In order for us to increase the level of service, there will have to be an increase in the number of officers. The officers are giving 100 per cent and are committed but it would be an advantage to the community to have more officers.
“From a BPA perspective, realistically I would like to see an additional 40 officers specifically for frontline tasks – that would increase our ability to provide services to the public.
“We give our all but because of all current demands of Covid it would be helpful to have that buffer.
“People don’t realise how much we do. We are the only service for the whole of Bermuda – there is no neighbouring service, we can’t call the FBI or CIA.”
Mr Trott said that planned island-wide CCTV network upgrades would go some way to assisting police, as would ensuring that every public-facing officer was equipped with a body camera.
“CCTV is an extra set of eyes for us – you might not have 480 officers but cameras give us an extra set of eyes – they do prevent crime and assist the police in better serving the public.
“Body cams protect police and the community – they make sure we are treating public fairly and that the public are treating us with respect.”