Govt paid out over $100k in overtime to reserve officers who manned shelters

Over $100,000 was paid out in overtime to reserve police officers, who manned shelters in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, Minister of National Security Marvin Dames said yesterday.

Dames said the funds were taken from another line item in the ministry’s budget for the year.

“It was in excess of some $100,000,” Dames said during his contribution to the 2020/2021 budget.

“That was taken to Cabinet, which Cabinet approved.

“And because the money was not available in the police fund, it was taken out of another line item within the ministry just to ensure that we paid those officers for their hard work. I was informed that some officers had overtime of two hours.

“Some had overtime of five hours. So, it fluctuated. So, they were paid based on the overtime because we had an extended list. That’s what they were paid on. So, if you worked two hours, you got your basic time paid by the force that you were allotted. It was the overtime that we were addressing. So, we were paid based on the hours that you work. So, it fluctuates from time to time.”

Thousands of people from Abaco and Grand Bahama, who lost their homes in Dorian, were housed in shelters on New Providence.

The issue arose when Englerston MP Glenys Hanna-Martin demanded that Dames address complaints she said she received from police reservists who have been manning the shelters.

Hanna-Martin said the officers told her they have not been paid for the hours they worked and that the government “swing them”.

Dames said that the reserve officers ended up working more than their set hours, and the money budgeted for their pay was insufficient. However, he said the matter was resolved after receiving approval from Cabinet to reallocate funds within the ministry’s budget for the payment of the overtime.

“[Post-Dorian], what we had to do in order to ensure that we make maximum use of our defense force and police officers on Abaco and Grand Bahama, we had to reduce the numbers at the centers,” he said.

“And so, reserves were called upon to provide the necessary security at the centers. It so happened that a number of these officers worked beyond the prescribed, I think it is 130 hours a month or somewhere around that.

“And so, the police force was only budgeted to pay them for that period. And so, the commissioner then made a request, because it was not in his budget, Mr. Speaker, for a certain amount of funds based on the hours worked. That document was then taken to Cabinet.”

Following a shouting match between Dames and Hanna-Martin, Dames said any police reservist who believes he may have been treated poorly can call him to work out the issue.

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Rachel Knowles

Rachel joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2019. Rachel covers national issues. Education: University of Virginia in Charlottesville, BA in Foreign Affairs and Spanish

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