CoP defends cost of police extra duties

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Commissioner of Police Erla Harewood-Christopher – Photo by Sureash Cholai

NEW Commissioner of Police (COP) Erla Christopher defended $3.8m in extra duties earned by police officers in 2020, largely for Carnival, amid reports that event promoters complained of an escalation in costs, speaking at Parliament’s Joint Select Committee (JSC) on National Security at Cabildo Chambers, Port of Spain.

Committee member Randall Mitchell said the extra duty cost charged by the police for Carnival activities was exorbitant in the eyes of promoters having to foot these bills. He said the charge had escalated over successive years from $1 million in 2017, $2.6 million in 2018, $2.9 million in 2019 to $3.8 million in 2020.

He asked the reason for these sharp increases.

Christopher replied that this was due to increased activity.

Mitchell retorted that he had examined the number of noise variation licences and bar licences and had found “no significant increases over those years.”

He asked for any other explanation as to the increased extra duty costs.

Christopher listed the cost of hiring officers per hour as constable $65, corporal $79, sergeant $96, inspector $110, ASP $124, supt $133, sen supt $151 and ACP $181. By way of comparison she listed the previous cost (without stating for which year) as: constable $55, corporal $77 and sergeant $81.

She then said that out of the sum paid in that total period which she estimated at $9-10 million and which Newsday calculated at $10.3 million, some $8 million had been paid to the officers, $427,000 paid in tax and $900,00 paid into the Police Service Award Fund.

This latter funds commendations to officers, awards, gratuities and compassionate gratuities, she said.