The Police Social and Welfare Association (PSWA) made a call to the “relevant authorities” not to tarry on releasing funds to the police, because the finances are needed for police to get even the most basic of items – like toilet paper.
“Miscellaneous items like toilet paper, paper towels, light bulbs are not supplied,” said secretary of the PSWA, Sgt Ancil Forde, during a press conference at Riverside Plaza, Port of Spain on Friday.
“Even fittings to repair broken toilets and faucets are not provided. Officers have to provide money to buy these items because they work in the environments. These are now bordering on OSHA issues and health and safety issues.”
Reporters were also told that several police stations had inadequate air conditioning, or none at all, and even sewerage problems.
“The issue affecting Morvant police station is a pigeon infestation and the effect of that is pigeon droppings. Additionally, there is need for roof repairs in Morvant and there is also a faulty sewer system in the Morvant police station and Guard and Emergency Branch which houses IATF and Traffic Branch.”
He said when it rains the sewer system backs up and police are made to clean the stations’ bathrooms themselves.
“These things cannot continue, they have to be rectified with a level of alacrity.”
Forde said the PSWA visited several stations, including the Police Administration Building, Guard and Emergency Branch, Arima and Morvant stations in response to complaints.
PSWA president, Insp Gideon Dixon raised even more serious issues in which the release of funds would assist. He said officers who are seeking promotions would also be negatively affected. He also said the funds were desperately needed by 273 officers who are currently injured.
Forde said officers seek treatment at public hospitals, and even when given the government funded medical assistance, medication which is also needed may not be supplied.
“We know that efforts are being made to ensure that the officers are being treated, however, there is also an issue of a medical board being convened. Funds affect all of these things.”
“We can simply say that based on what exists right now, the free medical that officers are entitled to speaks really to what the government of the day can provide, which is the general hospital, but we are saying that is unacceptable. Because if we take the case of a police officer trying to enforce law and both the police and the suspect are injured and both of us are lying in the same cubicle, and the suspect’s family and friends are coming to visit him, that puts us in an untenable position,” Forde said.
The PSWA added even uniforms are needed, but not available.
“There is a batch of special reserve police officers that have just passed out and there are no uniforms for them,” said vice president Insp Anderson Gonzales. “Stockings are a part of the kit for female officers. The service has not purchased stockings for over three years.
The PSWA said officers resort to buying items, which are supposed to be supplied to them, with no reimbursement.
The association supported Police Commissioner Gary Griffith's disclosure on Thursday that the service needed $100 million to cover goods and services. On Friday, Government released $56 million, with an additional $56 million to disbursed next week.
The way money is allocated, however, remained a problem, said the .
“There is a budget allocated, but money is being released incrementally, or how particular people feel, or believe it should be released, not as to the need identified by the commissioner. So the initiatives that the commissioner needs to do are dependent on the release of funds,” said Gonzales.