By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
CONCERNS have been raised over the government’s alleged failure to raise the salary of police officers who have completed their probationary period as recruits and have signed contracts with the Royal Bahamas Police Force.
Police Staff Association Chairman Dwight Smith told The Tribune yesterday that since April 2013, nearly 120 recruits completed their two year probationary period and signed a five-year contract with the police force.
None of them, he claimed, has received the expected salary adjustments.
Noting that recruits get paid about $1,500 a month when they become full-fledged police officers, Mr Smith said their salaries should be adjusted to around $2,200 a month, depending on their qualifications and certifications.
“We still have officers making $1,500 a month, but they’re no longer recruits,” he said. “Once they signed over for five years, their salaries (are) supposed to increase. That (is not enough) money what they (are) receiving now. They have mortgages and some of them have families that they need to take care of. They’re disgruntled.”
Mr Smith’s statements came less than a month after he raised concerns about police reservists going months without receiving pay. The PSA’s legal team is preparing to file court action because the government has not compensated officers who worked 12-hour shifts within the last year.
Yesterday Mr Smith lamented what he said is a culture of governance that ignores the needs and rights of police officers.
“We are being ignored,” he said. “There is lack of concern for police officers. They are not shown care and respect. How long have we had outstanding matters in terms of allowances, healthcare, pension and all these other issues that we can’t get addressed? This government and labour minister always say they are labour friendly, but we have not had a meeting with the government since they came to power. It’s as if we are being punished and made to suffer. The issue is we need to come off our high horses and not undermine the importance of our foot soldiers, the law enforcement agents.”
Mr Smith said within the last year he has written several letters to Police Commissioner Ellison Greenslade and Deputy Police Commissioner Quinn McCartney with respect to the salary increase for new officers.
He claimed that Mr Greenslade told him the problem should not exist and promised to deal with it. The Tribune was not able to reach the commissioner or Mr McCartney for comment.
Mr Smith fears that when officers are not treated the way they should be treated, they become more susceptible to bribery.
“Many of them really want to serve their country,” he said. “Don’t cause them to be accepting of bribes or corruption, particularly when opportunities are often in their way to do so. They have families to take care of. If they aren’t making monies to take care of themselves you are putting them in a position where they would be enticed to take part in corruption.”
He added that new officers must be given what is due to them in a timely fashion, especially because they engage in an “atypical” two-year probationary period as recruits.