By Shermain Bique-Charles
Protest action by police officers last week has seemingly forced the government to move with haste to repair the building housing the police headquarters on American Road.
That building was constructed in 1976.
National Security Minister Steadroy Benjamin told OBSEVRER media yesterday that the repair work will begin today. He confirmed that the Police Welfare Association is not aware of the latest decision.
“The Police Welfare Association has not met with me. They have refused to do so. But they will see that work will begin Monday,” Benjamin admitted.
He said that it is unfortunate that the government has to take on such an undertaking at a time when the public’s purse is dwindling, but according to Benjamin, “Other stations in the outlier districts will be refurbished gradually throughout the next couple of weeks.”
In the meantime, Benjamin said that he is concerned about statements by some police officers.
“Some statements were made at that meeting. We heard them. And I cannot question the loyalty of the police, but certain questions are raised by a section of the Police Welfare Association which appears not really to have the interest of the police welfare at heart. It appears that their motives are otherwise driven,” he said.
The police and fire officers have rejected an invitation to meet with Benjamin or Prime Minister Gaston Browne.
These officers argue that they have been asking for the same improvements for decades and have made no additional demands of the administration.
Officers claimed, amoung other issues, that they have had to pay for their own medical expenses even when injured on the job, and any repayment only materialises years after.
They also spoke of lack of running water at the stations as well as deteriorating fixtures and plumbing.
The officers accused the authorities of trying to threaten and intimidate them by using a section in the Police Act which precludes police officers from engaging in protest.
The officers who say that they are acting under the guise of association meetings added that they will no longer be threatened into submission.
They have vowed to carry on meeting all through the weeks ahead, if need be.