Top cop sets up welfare office for colleagues, their relatives

Observer staff reporter

Thursday, December 13, 2018

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RELATIVES of police officers who died while on duty can now access support through a welfare office, which was recently established at the Office of the Commissioner of Police in St Andrew.

The office was set up by Police Commissioner Major General Antony Anderson, who was appointed to the post in March.

According to Anderson, one of the first things he noticed on taking office was a lack of attention to the welfare of members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force.

The police commissioner said the matter of welfare is not automatic, so some members are not clear on how they can get assistance.

“I didn't see the sort of concern by the organisational leadership, for the members that I am used to... [the concern] where you actually look 360 degrees on the people who work for you and take care of them, even though you are the one doing the discipline side and the accountability side, equally, you are [also] doing the support side and the ensuring that family is okay side of it. That's what I am used to — that balance...

“I didn't see that, except in specific offices... It is not a uniformed thing. It is not as institutionalised as it should be,” the police commissioner said.

To get a better understanding of how welfare matters are handled in the police force, Anderson said he did his own investigation.

According to the top cop, besides the support police officers injured on the job receive from the Jamaica Police Federation after making a request, members are uncertain about other available assistance. This, the commissioner said, is unacceptable.

He made the statement while recounting a trip to Kingston Public Hospital to visit a policeman who had been shot in the arm while on duty. Anderson said the police officer was concerned about where he would get the pins he needed for his arm.

“There is no question in my mind where it comes from. It comes from us [the JCF]. We sent him out there to do [the job], so it has to come from us,” the police commissioner said, adding that it is not a gap to be filled by the Jamaica Police Federation.

With less than a year under his belt as top cop, Anderson said a welfare office, headed by former Jamaica Police Federation President Raymond Wilson, has already been established.

At the same time, he said steps have been taken to bridge the gap between the police and relatives of dead police officers who who are in need of support.

“There are scholarship programmes and various things that are there, but I think the most important thing is that the lines of communication are open and that they think that they can access us when they have an issue. So that's what we have really been doing and they have been really reaching out through that office,” he added.

In 2015, a group of family members of deceased police officers voiced their frustration at what they said is a lack of support from the authorities.

The family members' grouses were aired during the first staging of a psycho-educational group conference that was hosted by the Community Safety and Security Branch at the Police Officers' Club in St Andrew.

On November 27, relatives of the 25 cops who passed away last year were overcome with emotion during a luncheon hosted by the police commissioner at his office in St Andrew.

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