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Police top brass could have handled hurricane relief deductions differently – PM Gonsalves

Police top brass could have handled hurricane relief deductions differently – PM Gonsalves

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An order that compels police officers to donate money from their salaries to hurricane victims at month end could have been handled differently.

That’s the take of Prime Minister and Minister of National Security Dr Ralph Gonsalves, who spoke about the deductions on Monday during a press briefing at Cabinet Room.

Last week, a memo was circulated among members of the local constabulary, informing them that EC$20 or EC$50 would be deducted from their salaries, according to their rank, and the money would be donated to the recovery efforts in the region.

But Gonsalves said that while he does not want to second-guess the police hierarchy, it would have been better if police officers were asked to sign consent forms.

He said he was told about the controversial decision last Saturday by a police officer attached to his security detail and while that officer had no problem with the decision, several officers complained that they did not like the manner in which the deductions were being demanded.

Admitting that he had not yet had the opportunity to discuss the matter with acting Commissioner of Police Renold Hadaway, Gonsalves said his information is that the demand was made by “force order”.

“I haven’t studied the law, the specific point to whether he has the authority to do it,” said Gonsalves, who said in the circumstances, it would be preferable to print consent forms, even if the authorities have legislative authority.

The Prime Minister said he believes over 80 per cent of the police force would sign the consent form, allowing the deductions to be made, as he does not think that police officers would be mean-spirited about helping.

He, however, said the police officers who are challenging whether the top brass have the legal authority to make the deductions are not unreasonable.

A police source told SEARCHLIGHT that a meeting was held on Wednesday, during which the top brass apologized for the decision.

According to the source, police officers who do not want the deductions made must indicate that to the relevant authority at the Central Police Station and their salaries will be left intact.(LC)