Outgoing Chairman of Police Welfare Association warns successor about the road ahead
Station Sergeant Brenton Smith used his final address as Chairman of the Police Welfare Association (PWA) to warn the incoming Chairman to be steadfast in the face of the pressure.
After 10 years (broken by a two-year study gap) in office, the outspoken Chairman addressed, for the last time, the group of police officers gathered on December 27 at the Royal St Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force dinner/awards 2019.
He urged the members of the PWA to be supportive of the incoming chairman and the new executive.
Addressing the prospective Chairman he advised “Leadership is not about power but rather to serve your members selflessly.”
“You must have love for humanity, whether it’s to provide financial assistance, corresponding with doctors and hospital administrators directly when your members are seriously ill or otherwise,” he continued.
He warned that the road would not be an easy one, and “you must possess strength, willpower and be able to withstand the pressure that will confront you.”
Smith told this person to fight for the well-being of their members.
He hinted that there would be struggles, and he stated outright that if the Chairman holds contrasting views on a matter, he or she should be prepared to hear certain phrases:
“You come out of the bowels of the NDP”; or, “I am so disappointed in your leadership, I will see it that you lose the next welfare elections”. He also said that they will be told “Don’t come back to my office.”
“Be prepared to be arrested for fighting for your rights, and please, don’t use the word ‘storm’,” Smith added, to laughter from the audience.
In July 2017, three members of the executive of the PWA, including Smith, were transferred to police stations at Union Island, Owia and Chateaubelair days after threats were made to “storm” the Office of the Prime Minister because of delays by the authorities in responding to the requests of the PWA. The threats were made in voice notes leaked from a Whatsapp chat group of the executive of the PWA.
In his address last week, Smith cautioned the incoming Chairman to be aware of Executive members who have their own agendas and may leak voice notes during executive chats.
“Our incoming Chair I urge you to be strong and stand firm for what is right and do so respectfully. Support the Commissioner and the hierarchy of the organization, but never compromise your position for your personal gain,” the Sergeant stated.
However, he thanked his current Executive for all their love and support “to the bottom of my heart.”
Listing the achievements and tasks of the Welfare Association over the years, Smith noted the Association has been filling the gap with providing basic amenities.
“As our police are sacrificing their lives, and family time, they are deserving to sleep and rest in proper working conditions, including being provided with basic amenities, such as stoves, fridges, mattresses and televisions to make their life as comfortable as possible,” he said.
The Association has achieved an increase in maternity leave in their fight, from one month to three months, and policemen are now entitled to three days paternity leave.
The Welfare Association has been working on increasing the salary and allowances to officers, and has a proposal for increasing allowances before the Government now.
The retirement age for those who have not attained the rank of Sergeant by 50 has been changed to 55.
He thanked minister of foreign affairs Sir Louis Straker for relocating the officers of the Chateaubelair police station to another building while the main station was being repaired.
“He indicated that the police and bats cannot live together,” Smith recalled.
However, the Sergeant noted this is an ongoing issue at other police stations.