Letters — 04 November 2014

Dear Editor,

The death of Police Officer Danny Conorquie gives the current members of the Belize Police Force the golden opportunity to demand a life Insurance and benefits package from the Government of Belize, which is long overdue.

In 1975 on November 19, my squad-21 brother and friend, PC 431 Francis Bermudez, better known in Dangriga as “Govna,” died at the Belize City Hospital at a very young age. He was working at the Criminal Investigation Branch in Belize City with me before I got transferred to Orange Walk. Most officers at the time rated him as one of the top criminal investigators in that branch.

After his death and funeral, the then Commissioner of Police, Esmond Willoughby met with his sister and father and gave them a check for about $2,000.

My friend was engaged to be married at the time, but died before the wedding took place. If he had gotten married, I do not think the amount of money would have been different. Why? Because there are no fixed benefits in place for police officers in Belize when they receive an injury on the job or die. It is all left up to the discretion of the government to decide, and this is a shame.

It has been 39 years since this incident occurred, and it is now time for the Belize Government to negotiate a sickness, accident and death insurance policy for all the police officers, their spouses and children. This could include free education for all their children, and a stipend for the spouses and children if the officers were to die while serving in the Belize Police Force.

The police union is a joke – it has no power whatsoever. When we use to vote for our police union president back in the old days, the Government would promote them to Inspectors. Once they become an officer, they can no longer represent the enlisted police officers, because they automatically fell under the Public Service Commission (PSU).

I began to suspect that the motivation for most sergeants running for president was more to get promoted to inspector rather than advocating for our causes. If this problem is not fixed, police officers will be forced to join a real union rather than this “do nothing union” that they have in place for years now.

If each police officer pays a small portion of his salary towards this benefit package and their payments are invested in the Social Security trust fund or another investment fund, this should not be all that difficult.

For the type of work that our police officers do daily, risking their lives on duty, we should not continue to mistreat them like this. I call on the Belize People’s Front, a new up-and-coming political party in Belize, to champion the police officers’ causes.

The two main political parties have never done anything to address this major problem for all these years.

Wellington C. Ramos

Ex-Corporal of the Belize Police Department

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