- The following statement was released on Tuesday, June 11, 2019 by the Chairman of the Bermuda Police Association, Sergeant Andrew A Harewood
We have been asked to comment on the recent public statements made concerning the Bermuda Police Association (BPA) and its Conditions of Service. These statements were reportedly made as a result of the current impasse between the Government of Bermuda (the Government) and the Prison Officers Association (POA). It is our view that Correction Officers are distinctly similar to police officers. We understand their struggle. The men and women of the POA have the full support of the BPA.
We can confirm that the BPA has the same Government Health Insurance Benefit (GEHI) as the POA. To be clear, this benefit does not extend to our family members as recently reported. The benefit stops once the member retires. Government is now seeking to confiscate this benefit from us.
We urge the Government to reconsider taking such a stance. Such a position would not be in the best interest of the public and would have a negative effect on how we carry out our duties. Every day the members of the BPA and POA put their life on the line to ensure Bermuda is safe. We are prepared to die for this country. It is only fair that if we happen to be lucky enough to survive, that our medical care is taken care of. It is this assurance that causes us to step in the face of danger without fear, while others are running away.
In the same way that our vehicles require sirens and lights to respond to calls for service in the expected time, our health insurance is necessary for the dangers we are expected to face. For example; it is our duty to enter a house and arrest a suspect who is armed with a gun and has just committed a heinous crime, in so doing, would it be fair for us to bear the cost of our medical care if we are shot? We are of the view that the Government has a responsibility to ensure that the police officers who are serving the public are of the best health. An unhealthy police officer can be a danger to the public; hence, the affordability of the individual officer to pay health insurance should not be a factor in public safety. Consequently, our current benefit should not be changed. The public of Bermuda deserves a healthy Police and Correction Service.
On the 7th of June, 2019 in the House of Assembly the Minister for National Security, Hon Minister Caines made some unfortunate comments concerning our Health Insurance Benefit. He asked the question: “What it is like to be fair for everyone?” He mentioned that only two Government entities have this benefit and suggested that it should not continue. We asked the Minister the question, is it fair that those same Government workers can run away from danger, while the Police and Prisons have to run towards it? It is worth noting that in some instances if a police officer runs away from danger, he/she could be subject to discipline or criminal charges. Is that fair?
We say it is currently fair that we have to run to danger while others are entitled to run away because of our health benefit. If that is taken away from us, then we should be allowed to run away as well. The question then would be who would keep the public safe if that’s the case. The bottom line is that the health insurance benefit is required to keep Bermuda safe.
We strongly ask the Government to sit down with the POA and try to find a way forward to end the impasse, instead of trying to shoehorn them into arbitration. We are concerned that the role we now play as a result of the impasse is negatively impacting the welfare of our members and cannot be sustained.
Andrew A Harewood Sgt 2168, Chairman of the Bermuda Police Association