Commissioner of Police Renald Hadaway says that he “cannot speak with total clarity” on the issue of whether police officers riding in police vehicles are covered by insurance.
This was one of the issues that the executive of the Police Welfare Association (PWA) was discussing in a WhatsApp conversation in June that was leaked, resulting in three of their members being brought up on internal disciplinary charges.
Hadaway’s comments came in a Sept. 4, 2017 letter to the Police Welfare Association in response to a number of outstanding communications from the body, dating back several months.
He said in the letter that investigations are being conducted into the matter, adding that he would get back to the association at the conclusion of those inquiries.
But the commissioner’s response has been greeted with shock by one source close to the PWA, who told iWitness News on Sunday that all it takes is a call to the insurance company to verify the issue of insurance coverage.
“Look at the dates. Over three months and now he is investigating and all he has to do is to pick o the phone can call the insurance company,” the source said.
In fact, iWitness News had cause to make such a call on Saturday to verify — for another report — the conditions under which persons travelling in the pan of trucks and pickups are covered by an insurance policy.
One insurance executive told iWitness News that the police must give permission for persons to ride in the pan of trucks, and even after that permission is granted, the insurance company must agree to extend the coverage to such persons.
The practice of person riding on the back of trucks, though widespread, came to a head in 2015, when a Sandy Bay woman, who was among person travelling in the pan of a truck to an election rally, lost a leg when the vehicle overturned.
The insurance company compensated none of the persons who were travelling the pan of the vehicle and were injured.
On Aug. 30, 2017, Police Constable Devon Bute, general secretary of the PWA, wrote to the police chief about the associations’ concerns.
Bute said that the PWA was still awaiting a response to its correspondences of April 4, 2017 on the issue of insurance for police vehicles.
He said the association was also awaiting a response to a letter of June 6, 2017 inquiring about whether Coastguard officers are insured while travelling on the unit’s boats or whilst on active duty.
“We are awaiting a response on the issue of the leave system, whether any progress has been made on setting up a committee to restructure this system and the proposal to have Ms Mineva Glasgow or any member from the National Insurance Service to speak to us on Pension reform,” Bute wrote.
In his response, the police chief said that the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines provides adequate medical coverage for police personnel and “this would include personnel travelling and sustaining injuries while in police vehicles/vessels”.
Questions have also been raised about whether prisoners and other persons in police custody are insured while riding in these vehicles, especially in the pan, as if often the manner in which police transport such persons.
Regarding the leave committee, the police chief said that the force is in the process of setting up a committee “to continue looking into the restructuring of the leave system in the Police Department.
“When this is completed, you would be informed according,” Hadaway said.
On the issue of pension reform, the police chief said he was “uncertain whether or not it is Pension Reform you want to be addressed or if it is a discussion on Pension you wish to engage someone from NIS on.
“However, if it is Pension Reform, this discussion has to be held with the relevant authorities,” Hadaway said, adding that he is seeking the PWA’s clarification on this matter.