Staff work weekends to process police back pay

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Police officers on patrol in Arima. – File photo by Angelo Marcelle

CARNIVAL alternate gold commander ACP Winston Maharaj said on Tuesday the police service was working expeditiously to pay any outstanding back pay to police officers.

He denied officers would protest the delay by boycotting their Carnival duties. He said policing was a calling.

He was addressing a briefing at the Ministry of National Security on Abercromby Street, Port of Spain, chaired by Minister Fitzgerald Hinds.

“It is a significant number of applications to be processed in quick time by a small group that has been augmented by our brothers and sisters from the various law enforcement agencies,” Maharaj said.

“They have been working on weekends, public holidays, extended hours, above and beyond the call to process this significant number of applications.

“I can say more than 99 per cent of special reserve officers have been paid, and close to 55 per cent of the regular police population has been paid, and the finance branch is working assiduously to ensure the rest is processed in as quick a time as possible so that the monies will be made available to public officers who deserve it anyway. It is theirs.”

Maharaj earlier scotched any idea of police officers staying away from Carnival duties due to being disgruntled.

“Within recent times, we have heard from some quarters there is the likelihood that certain police officers who have not received emoluments, vis-a-vis back pay and so on, may not be reporting for duty, as some mark of protest as the case may be.

“I want to debunk that myth immediately. That is not the case. That is a misconstrued perception that has been perpetuated in the public domain and those who know better should say better.”

Maharaj said the Government has made the requisite funds available.

He said Police Commissioner Erla Harewood-Christopher brought in all resources “humanly possible” to process the back pay.

He said police did not generally enlist in the service to receive back pay.

“They enlisted on the premise that it is their calling, their patriotic duty, to respond to the needs of the State, particularly when it relates to national events such as Carnival.”

He said police on vacation and out of the country have been called out for Carnival.

Maharaj said SRPs, municipal and parliamentary police, plus soldiers and traffic wardens have also been roped into the Carnival safety and security plan.

Asked about an expected police strength at Carnival, he said regulations state that no more than 15 per cent of the active service may be on leave at a given time.

Defence Force (TTDF) operations officer Colin Millington said Carnival was a “no leave period” but also said soldiers would be deployed in such a way to be not as taxing as if it were a full call-out period.