PRESIDENT of the Police Welfare Association (PWA) Travis Chicot has promised the support of his Association to members implicated in the IMPACS scandal.
In an exclusive interview with The VOICE, Chicot said that the PWA will continue to speak with the members incriminated in the humiliation, urging them to be productive in spite of the various challenges they now face.
“We ask them to remain patient in the fight. We know it is not going to be an easy fight, but the PWA will stand with them in the coming days and when it is utmost necessary to do so,” Chicot said.
He was also questioned on the PWA’s strategy when it engages the Government Negotiating Team (GNT) in the upcoming negotiations for the next three-year period.
According to Chicot the PWA, as part of the Trade Union Federation (TUF), will be negotiating salaries collectively with the other members of the Federation. Further that the PWA has already finalised its proposals to be handed to the GNT whenever they meet.
When it comes to the salaries we will negotiate with all other members of the TUF,” he said.
He gave members the assurance that the PWA’s executive will negotiate and seek increases for them.
“We need to renegotiate our proficiency and vocational allowances where our members have gone out to study and have comeback with bachelor degrees,” Chicot said, adding that the executive will ensure that members who received certain academic qualifications be paid as per their credentials.
“We are not asking for it (allowances) to be retroactive, we are asking for it to be paid. We are looking at our plainclothes detective allowance; we are looking at lodging allowances, and a number of other allowances. We believe there may be need for slight increases in them because of the rise in the country’s cost of living,” Chicot said.
He called on the government, as the employer, to treat police officers as professionals and to enact the non-lethal weapons act to enable police officers to use Tasers, pepper spray and other new technologies used to apprehend suspects.
“We have highlighted the fact that we need more gear, more bullet proof vests, more equipment. The PWA sounds its voice on being treated as professionals and when you are a professional you must give them the right tools to do the job,” Chicot said.
He made a plea to young men in the society to take another route to solve their issues, noting that violence is not the way.
“So that in the days to come the PWA will be putting its boots on the ground. The PWA will use members in their various departments to have a few community discussions.
“We are looking to start off within the City of Castries where we seem to have had the greatest challenge when it comes to crime fighting,” Chicot said.
He spoke on the rate of attrition within the police force claiming that it is high as members leave the organisation ‘at a rapid rate’.
“We see members who have achieved their 20 years leaving the Service. Its’ been a while since we recruited. I know we have recruited about 60 new recruits, but even that number is not enough due to the number of persons that have left the police force,” Chicot said.
He believes that the recruitment of persons into the membership of the police force needs to be a little more innovative in terms of how they are equipped and trained to provide the services the public requires.