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Police Staff Assoc. ‘won’t back down’

Smith toughens position against Greenslade
Guardian Staff Reporter

Published: Oct 22, 2013

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The Police Staff Association will not back down from its threat to take legal action over compensation issues associated with the new 12-hour shift, and will not be dictated to by the commissioner of police, PSA Executive Chairman Inspector Dwight Smith said yesterday.

Commissioner Ellison Greenslade has said he will not be dictated to and every member of the police force should be cautious about what they say, and ensure they do not step out of order.

Smith said the commissioner needs to be reminded that the association is governed by the Royal Bahamas Police Staff Association Act.

“If he feels that way, that no one is going to be able to dictate to him, I can’t have people dictate to me either unless they are members of the Police Staff Association,” Smith said.

“My authority comes under Chapter 206. That is where I get my directives from.

“I have to represent the officers. His position is appointed and mine is an elected one.”

Smith threatened over a week ago to take legal action if the organization does not hear from government officials about compensation for officers by Friday coming.

He said unless the government meets with the association and attempts to resolve its concerns the association would follow through on its threat.

“When we’re talking about court matters, the association, the commissioner of police and the government just went to court before the chief justice,” Smith said.

“One individual out of the association put us before the court. If they can take legal action, what makes you think that we can’t?”

The PSA said it sent a letter to Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Perry Christie on October 11 outlining the law that dictates when government employees should receive overtime pay. Police have been working 12-hour shifts since early September.

Smith said up to last night there had been no response from the government.

Greenslade has said officers should not be complaining and should not petition the government over matters that are their sworn duty.

He told The Nassau Guardian police officers could remain on 12-hour shifts for another year or perhaps even two years, depending on the need.

“If it goes on the same trend that is not going to happen,” Smith said. “You are going to burn out your people.

“We have officers who are sick now. The doctors are telling them they need the rest, but...they are not having sufficient time off.

“We are not saying we do not want a 12-hour shift, but it has to be properly done.”

Smith said too many officers have been working up to five and six days on 12-hour shifts before getting time off.  The association is pushing for officers to work 12-hour shifts for two days then have two days off.

He said many officers who began working night shifts (8 p.m. to 8 a.m.) in September have still not been alternated to a daytime shift.

As it relates to compensation, Smith said there appears to be this back and forth between the association and the commissioner.

However, he said the association will address compensation issues with the minister of finance, not the commissioner of police.

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