Recognising that problems experienced, noticed, and expressed by police officers are regional, the Caribbean Federation of Police Welfare Associations (CFPWA) is hoping to spread awareness and synergy among the different welfare associations through its newsletter.
The bulletin, which will be published on a quarterly basis, was launched recently in Grenada at the Red Cross Building on Lucas Street, St. George’s.
The newsletter will be focusing on issues both at the micro and the macro level in the Caribbean so that internal issues that the CFPWA feels are relevant will invoke some discussion at the regional level.
According to President of CFPWA, Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Anand Ramesar of Trinidad and Tobago, who was present at the launch, the disjointed efforts among regional welfare associations is not helping police officers and by extension the different police forces around the Caribbean.
He told the gathering that there is no similarity with how police officers are treated in the Caribbean and the legislative and administrative framework in which different associations operate, “there are not sufficient enabling factors for associations to function and serve their membership.”
“Look at the issue of Commissioners of Police in some instances, many of the Caribbean islands we find that Commissioners of Police say that they are Chief Welfare Officer and that is commendable but when you look at those organisations and you do an inspection on audit on what has been done in relation to welfare, you find that if Officer A or B has a problem, it is dealt with in a singular manner”, he said.
“What I mean is that you do not find policies, so persons when they have issues, they cannot look at a policy that will inform them in terms of how to treat with those issues. So, Commissioners of Police find themselves in a situation where they would rather meet every person in relation to a similar problem rather than putting a policy in place to deal with the problem for all persons who would have been similar circumstanced in those areas…”, he added.
Ramesar stated that one of the objectives of the Caribbean Federation is to bring a level of synergy in relation to how police officers are treated in the realm of welfare.
“You know that the issue of compensation can never be similar because each Caribbean Island has its own economic challenges, and for us to represent officers throughout the Caribbean that we will receive equal salary, that would be a misrepresentation in terms of who we are and what we represent,” he said.
The Trinidad cop pointed out that CFPWA is advocating for Commissioners of Police in the region to prioritise the inclusion of welfare in their crime plans as it is inherent when working with police officers.
Failure to do so, ASP Ramesar said, “creates a gap that sometimes is not fully understood in relation to how it impacts your organisation.”
“So by way of recommendation from the Federation in relation to that is that we ask Commissioners of Police to ensure that whilst we look at alignment…we have to look at the issue of internal alignment in relation to welfare, what is happening with welfare, and what is happening in relation to the strategy of your organisation.
“Often we see that a lot of money is spent on preparing a policeman to be the best policeman he can be but very little is spent in relation to ensuring that there is permanent and continuous wellness in relation to that police officer.
The newsletter, which will be distributed throughout the region, will be directed at ensuring all these issues are dealt with.
The CFPWA President pointed out that each individual association will have the responsibility of ensuring that the newsletter goes to the different stakeholders “who are involved in law enforcement, the members of the public who support law enforcement and as well as to the internal stakeholders who are interested in ensuring that there is growth in relation to how police officers are treated in the area of welfare.”
Chairman of the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) Welfare Association, Inspector Simon Douglas stressed that the dissemination of information through the newsletter will do wonders for the different welfare associations in the region.
“One of the things I am encouraged by is the fact that sharing information encourages constructive criticism and encouragement from your members. It causes them to give you advice, unlike, if they are not hearing from you. Many of our associations have been doing great things, but some of our members are not aware of those things and I must admit that our association is very guilty of that,” he said.
Deputy Commissioner of Police in Grenada, Franklyn Redhead commended the association for the initiative its about to venture into as welfare as now seen as “an integral part of an expanded and modernised HR (Human Resource) Regime and we fully recognise the importance and value of ensuring the welfare of staff as it contributes to the overall goals and development of our respective institutions”.
“From where I sit, I can see that there is a deliberate strategy in terms of advancing those ideals in the context of how they fit together with organisational goals and certainly it is very gratifying to see that yet again, that you have achieved another milestone within this range of possibilities that you have set for yourselves as organisations to achieve these tasks,” DCP Redhead said.
Delivering the featured remarks at the launch was President of the Grenada Trade Union Council (GTUC), Andre Lewis who highlighted the type of reach that will come about as a result of the newsletter.
According to Lewis, communication is extremely important and in the case of the regional welfare body it will allow members “to be fed information from the different territories, it allows for you to be in communication with your members, which is so important”.
“…It is also important for the building of confidence for the civilian population in the region, because I am absolutely certain that you will ensure that your communication finds its way, not just through the rank of the different police force but also through the communities and you will reflect their involvement in the communities”, he said.
Lewis is confident that this kind of approach will “reach down to the benefit of our communities because as you continue to communicate to the members of the communities and you continue to show organisation, the confidence of the people will be built and it will assist you, not just in terms of your welfare but in terms of the general police service throughout the region…”.
“…It helps with your networking, but at the same time, it also allows you to continue your work as an advocacy group because as welfare associations, you have a responsibility to advocate for the welfare of your members and this is not limited to working conditions, it is not just limited to the well-being of individuals but it is all encompassing,” he said.