Lucius Thomas heading to security ministry

Horace Hines

Friday, May 18, 2012

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FALMOUTH, Trelawny — Former Police Commissioner Lucius Thomas is heading to the Ministry of National Security as coordinator of welfare benefits for members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF).

The announcement was made by National Security Minister Peter Bunting at yesterday's opening of the 69th Police Federation conference at Breezes Resort and Spa in Trelawny. Thomas will assume his post next month.

Bunting said Thomas, who was selected to represent the People's National Party in North West St Ann but withdrew his candidacy just before the December 29 poll, will liaise with Government agencies to eliminate the bureaucracy that has been delaying welfare benefits to JCF members.

"Someone who will advocate on behalf of the police; someone who will work with the federation to assess the police welfare needs, who will remove the obstacles in accessing existing benefits and will develop recommendations for new benefits," Bunting explained.

The minister bemoaned the barriers that members of the JCF face in accessing benefits to which they are entitled.

"When I met with the central executive of the police federation, I was surprised that apart from issues of concern for greater benefits, probably equally frustrating were areas where they already had benefits but accessing them were so frustrating, sometimes taking years," Bunting lamented.

He made reference to a case in which a policeman, two years after retiring from the Force after 40 years of service, was still not receiving his monthly pension.

"It is the case for medical reimbursement, it is the case for legal cost reimbursement, it is the cost for some simple welfare items for which, really, there is no justification to be jammed up in the bureaucracy. And, in fact, it is downright cruel," Bunting argued.

"When you have somebody who has already had the trauma of going through some illness from a work-related accident — might be a shooting, could be a vehicle accident or any type of illness that is work-related — and they have to front serious costs on their own... it shouldn't happen," he added.

He said it was this need for the expediency of welfare benefits to police officers that pushed himself and newly-appointed Permanent Secretary Dr Ann Marie Barnes into action to hire "a police welfare coordinator at the ministry".

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