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Nottage ‘not deaf’ to PSA’s call for overtime pay

Guardian Senior Reporter

Published: Oct 09, 2013

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Minister of National Security Dr. Bernard Nottage said yesterday he is “not deaf” to calls for overtime pay made by the Police Staff Association (PSA).

However, Nottage did not say when or if police officers will be compensated for working longer hours.

Police officers were put on a 12-hour shift in September after a spate of murders and other violent crimes.

“Obviously, there is nothing in the budget about that subject, but I’m not deaf,” Nottage said.

He said he has not been formally asked if police officers can get additional vacation time in exchange for the longer hours they are working.

“I’ve heard, nobody has really asked me for days back, but I have heard the concern and as I said, I’m not deaf,” he told reporters after a presentation to the Rotary Club of Nassau at Luciano’s restaurant.

On Friday, PSA Chairman Dwight Smith said officers were “tired” because of the longer hours and lamented the fact that they have not been paid overtime.

On Monday, Smith told The Nassau Guardian that he was still waiting to hear from Nottage on whether police officers will be compensated financially or with extra vacation days.

“They just need to put their money where their mouth is,” Smith said.

“I’m getting called every day in terms of when the 12 hours will cease.  Any person will know we cannot sustain a 12-hour shift for a long period of time because we are going to burn out.”

However, Nottage said in spite of complaints from the PSA, he has gotten “positive feedback” from police officers and the public.

“The public is extremely pleased with the new police presence and they have told me so,” Nottage said.

“They have called to say, in some communities where people say they have never seen policemen in their communities in the past [they are seeing them now].

“So the truth of the matter is I have had very little negative response, either from policemen or from the public about that particular aspect.”

Smith said last week that any reduction in crime seen after the government rolled out its new plan could be attributed to the increased number of police officers on the streets, not the longer hours they are working.

Nottage said Smith may be right in his assessment and added that the government is hiring 100 new police officers this year and plans to recruit more defence force officers.

He said any changes to the current crime strategy will be based on advice from Commissioner of Police Ellison Greenslade.

“All I can say is something is working and decisions about how long they will be working as they are working really come from the commissioner of police,” Nottage said.

“It’s his job.  He is in constant contact with his commanders and with the Staff Association. So I expect, if there is a concern or a need that he will bring those to my attention.

“Ideally [the longer shift] will be in place for as long as it’s thought to be effective and until such time as they have the ability to compensate for it when it finishes. I expect to get advice on that from the commissioner of police.”

The new crime plan also included deploying 150 defence force marines to take over sedentary police duties so that more police officers could be placed on the frontline.

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