Police Association On Legal & Medical Expenses

August 23, 2019 | 2 Comments

The Bermuda Police Association held an Emergency General Meeting, and two of the matters discussed included “legal coverage for police officers who become the subject of an investigation arising out of the execution of their duties” and healthcare coverage.

Minister’s Statement

Minister for the Cabinet Office Wayne Furbert said, “While the Public Sector Negotiating Team [PSNT] is essentially responsible for leading our union negotiations. The Government is keen to conclude the Bermuda Police Association’s [BPA\] discussions for a new CBA in a timely fashion. While the parties have made progress in reaching agreement on some matters, regrettably, negotiations have reached an impasse.

“On Friday, 16th August 2019 the PSNT issued a letter to the BPA’s representative advising that negotiations had stalled. The letter also gave notice that the PSNT is in the process, pursuant to Section 29B(1) of the Police Act 1974, of referring certain outstanding matters to the Labour Relations Section of the Ministry of Labour, Community Affairs and Sports for settlement settlement by conciliation.

“I can advise that both parties are eager to conclude the negotiations. For our part, this Government will continue to work in good faith with the BPA to settle outstanding issues related to the terms and conditions of service.”

Bermuda Police Association’s Statement

A spokesperson said, “The Bermuda Police Association held an Emergency General Meeting to discuss the status of Negotiations after receiving correspondence from Government stating that they intend to refer the outstanding matters to Conciliation. We have asked for clarity concerning these matters and to date have not received a response.

“Two of the matters mentioned were:

  • Legal coverage for police officers who become the subject of an investigation arising out of the execution of their duties.
  • Healthcare coverage for police officers

“These two issues are fundamental components needed in order for us to perform the role that we are sworn to do. Policing is a very high-risk profession resulting in physical injuries, mental and medical issues which are part and parcel of this job.

“We have the daunting responsibly of having to use force against suspects to protect the public. This in itself, comes with its legal challenges, which leads to police officers requiring legal representation. It is worth noting that police officers who are not members of the BPA [Superintendent and above] have legal coverage if they become the subject of an investigation arising out of the execution of their duties.

“The resounding question posed at the meeting was, “Given the government’s position that they are unwilling to cover legal expenses that arise out of the officers’ execution of their duty, knowing that the BPA may not be able to continue to do so and that the government are seeking to erode their medical benefits; will this have an impact on their critical decision-making ability especially in a time-critical situation?”

“If the answer to this question is yes, then our members will have no choice but to reduce the risk to themselves. Due to this, our members have stated they are now considering whether undertaking additional voluntary roles which increase their personal liability is feasible, such as:

  • Carrying a police firearm
  • Responding to incidents utilizing blue lights and high speeds
  • Pursuing vehicles
  • Handling a Police K9
  • Being a member of the Underwater Search and Recovery Team [Police Diver]
  • Being a member of the Explosive Ordinance Disposal Team [Bomb squad]
  • Other similar roles

“It was reported that the Hon. Minster Wayne Furbert stated, “While the Public Sector Negotiating Team is essentially responsible for leading our union negotiations, the Government is keen to conclude the Bermuda Police Association’s discussions for a new collective bargaining agreement in a timely fashion.”

He further stated, “For our part, this Government will continue to work in good faith with the BPA to settle outstanding issues related to the terms and conditions of service.”

“These two statements by the Minister are totally misleading. We call on the Government to explain why they did not honour the partial agreement which was negotiated in good faith over the past eighteen months. We also call on the Government to explain why they refuse to implement the tribunal award and subsequent agreement to cover the funding of legal expenses for Police Officers who are charged for criminal matters, which was awarded over ten years ago.

“We are very concerned about the way Government is dealing with this matter and the fact that their actions have the potential of causing a dissatisfied Police Service, creating severe issues for national security. We urge the Government of Bermuda to stop taking the members of the BPA for granted.

“The members of the BPA remain committed to providing a first-class service to the people of Bermuda.

“Every day we are expected to put our lives on the line on behalf of the Government to keep the people of Bermuda safe while others have the privilege to run away. If we are fortunate enough to survive those dangerous situations we often face, we believe that it is reasonable and necessary for the Government to cover our legal and medical expenses.

“The BPA remains committed to protecting the public and hope to resolve these issues by good faith negotiations without having to resort to arbitration.”

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Comments (2)

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  1. Joe Bloggs says:

    “These two statements by the Minister are totally misleading.”

    Oh, come on! What do you expect from a politician? Honesty? Grow up!

  2. MM says:

    I have not read the statement in it’s entirety…but I do believe that police officers ought not have to go in their pockets for defending themselves against malicious claims or injuries incurred during the performance of their duties. Now there is a process, an investigation, it takes time , the officer has to safeguard his/her interest ..on the flip side..if the officer engaged in reckless behaviour resulting in harm or loss to a member of the public, that officer needs to come out of his/her own pocket. The public purse needs to be safeguarded. We need to rally around our police officers , also our prison officers who have to work inside of four walls.

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