On Thursday, October 4th, Minister of National Security, Hon. John Saldivar handed out letters to some 20 police officers effectively adjusting their salaries. According to Minister Saldivar, it has long been the practice at the Police Department that when police officers leave the department and re-enlist, they are brought it at a salary far below where they were before. Now, the Ministry has sought to correct that situation. Over 200 officers across the country find themselves in the position and the situation has been corrected. The officers, who have re-enlisted will now be receiving the salary equivalent to what it was when they left. That is also being implemented retroactive to when the officers re-enlisted.
After handing out the letters of salary adjustments, Minister Saldivar took time out to take questions and concerns from the policemen and women present. Concerns presented by officers included instances where officers leave the department at a certain rank and when they are re-enlisted they are taken in as police constables. That, said Minister Saldivar, will be a thing of the past where officers, who leave the department and are re-enlisted will be done at the rank where they left at.
Officers also had concerns about the process of promotions. Minister Saldivar pointed out to the police officers that the issue of promotions is one, which is being done in a transparent manner. The examinations will now be conducted and graded by the Ministry of Education and reports will be handed over to the Ministry of National Security. In the past, it was a matter where the exams were administered and corrected by the Police Department leaving officers to speculate that there was favoritism shown in the grading of papers. That now is being changed but even so Minister Saldivar stated that the exams will not be the sole deciding factor for promotions to take place. It will, however, be a component among others that includes the police officer's performance in the past.
The issue of the 12-hour shift system being implemented at the Belize City Formation was also brought up as a matter of concern. To this, Minister Saldivar explained that it is first being tested in Belize City to see its effectiveness and if it works well it will be implemented across the country. He noted that for this system to work however, officers must be willing to give it a try and not sabotage the system.
Another concern the officers brought up was that of the monthly hundred-dollar allowance, which the policemen and women at the Patrol Branch would receive. Minister Saldivar said that the money will be forthcoming in October and it was not as a result of the 12-hour system, rather it was implemented to put the officers at the Patrol Branch in par with other patrolling units of the Police Department.
Aside from taking questions from those present, the Minister also took time out to express the gratitude he has for the work that police officers do and his intention to always take a serious look at improving their welfare. He said that shortly work will commence on the construction of a 40-bunk barracks on the third floor of the Queen Street Police Station in order to accommodate officers who have to commute.