Patrolling covid19-safe zones for violations of vaccine requirements will not be out of the ordinary for police officers as upholders of the law of the land, police Social and Welfare Association president Gideon Dickson told Newsday on Thursday.
Asked if police would feel comfortable visiting safe zones to check for unvaccinated people, or needed more training, he said, "All what you are saying is what the police are accustomed to doing. In terms of patrolling, checking on the stakeholders – be it the gyms, the bars – all this is a part of what we do on a daily basis. We continue to bridge the gap between the community and the police.
"The only difference here now is that they are trying to open up the economy and they are going with safety. It is the law of the land, and we are the upholders of the law of the land."
Had he been consulted?
"Yes, there was consultation by the acting Commissioner of Police who contacted the association. We are aware that attempts are being made to achieve the mandate. It could be achieved by strategic alliance."
Asked if police officers were vaccinated, he said, "I know that the persons who would be doing the patrols in these areas would in fact be vaccinated officers. That much I could say."
Asked if officers be stationed at, say, a mall, or be mobile, and would it be a logistical nightmare, he said, "Where that is concerned, that speaks directly to the operations. It's an operation that falls under the purview of the CoP."
His association is concerned with the welfare of police officers.
"We'd want to ensure our officers are not overburdened, in terms of delivery of service. We'd want ensure they have the right PPE (personal protective equipment) and all the different things. We'd want to ensure these things are in place. That I could speak to."
On the welfare of officers going into safe zones, he said, "The officers heading into these place would be ones who have the vaccination card. We are pretty confident they'd be able to execute their duties and do what is required of them... We will do a monitoring and evaluation to ensure that our officers are at their optimum when performing their duties."
Gideon reflected that the exercise was not for the benefit of the police and businesses but for everyone, as he voiced the phrase, "country first."
"I think attempts are being made to open up the economy. You are trying to have a level of monitoring and control. You'd want persons to try to familiarise themselves with what the law is, so they would not be committing any offence which could cause them more hardship in these difficult times we are in here right now."
He also hoped officers would not have to go beyond the call of duty to enforce the law.
"We'd want premises' owners to do their due diligence and also the patrons to do their due diligence, so this whole thing would create a level of synergy to get the economy back up again."
He expected the police to continue doing what was expected of them.
"I know my officers presently are doing their jobs now, which is very commendable. Our officers have not been afforded the luxury of leave nor that kind of rotation that others would have had.
"Yet still we have remained committed to the task. High praise should be given to them and should be shown by the authorities in negotiations to improve their basic standard of living and medical issues that have been left unchecked."