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Meeting needs of the police a good move

Monday, November 18, 2019

All too often in everyday life, those of whom we ask much get very little in return.

That's the case for people in many categories of public service, including our teachers, nurses, et al. We dare say members of the security forces are right up there at the top of the heap when it comes to making extreme sacrifices.

A superficial look at Jamaica's outrageously high crime rate readily illustrates the great degree of risk to life and difficulty for police personnel. No one who has ever walked the gully banks and narrow zinc fence lanes of Jamaica's more crime-prone, inner-city communities should ever doubt the extent of their sacrifice.

In that respect, we applaud word from Commissioner of Police Major General Antony Anderson of greater effort to meet the needs of police personnel through a Welfare Department operated from his office.

We are told that former head of the Police Federation, Assistant Superintendent Raymond Wilson, now heads the Welfare Department and that a positive difference is being made.

“We deal with about 15 to 20 medical cases each week. We have dealt with cases that have languished for up to five years, eight years, and we are actually getting resolutions to these things. When matters came up around benefits that people should have received, and didn't get, we moved out rapidly to resolve those issues,” said General Anderson.

We note his commitment to applying greater urgency in dealing with those injured on the job. That's as it should be, regardless of the cost to the taxpayer.

We are also happy that the programme to repair and improve police stations appears to be gathering pace.

“There has been an unprecedented thrust to make police working conditions better,” with more than 100 police stations refurbished, the police commissioner tells us.

This, we assume, falls under the $2 billion, two-year rehab project for police stations funded by the National Housing Trust, which was announced by Prime Minister Andrew Holness in Parliament earlier this year.

It's a programme that's absolutely essential, given the need to lift and maintain morale among police as the society combats crime.

Also, it seems to us, as is the case with other public sector categories in health and education, the salary scale for those on the front line fighting crime needs special attention.

As executive director of anti-corruption agency, National Integrity Action, Professor Trevor Munroe said in July, it's unacceptable that a police constable sworn to serve and protect is receiving less than $1 million per year in basic salary.

As the Jamaican economy gradually recovers from decades of chronic indebtedness, as sustainable economic growth is gradually achieved, the expectation is that more money will become available for the public good.

It will be very important in that brighter future that our men and women on the front line get rewards that are closer to their due.