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The opportunity is now available for police inspectors and constables to work until the age of 60 years old under the new Compulsory Retirement Age Act, 2016. However, the decision will come with a requirement.
When the Compulsory Retirement Age bill was taken to the House of Assembly in October to raise the retirement age from 60 to 65 across the board, police officers were not included. However, at the time, Hon. Myron Walwyn, Minister of Education and Culture made a public appeal during the debate for there to be a provision for officers.
Under the existing Police Act, inspectors and constables are automatically sent home at age 55.
According to the Compulsory Retirement Act, which was gazetted in December, notwithstanding the provisions of the Police Act, the Governor may retire an inspector, a subordinate police officer or a constable from the force on or after attaining the age of fifty-five years. It further states under the provision that the Governor may, following the recommendation of the Commissioner of Police that an inspector, subordinate police officer or constable has passed a comprehensive physical examination carried out by a medical practitioner duly registered under the Medical Act, 2000, permit an inspector, subordinate police officer or constable who has attained the age of 55, to continue in the force for a period not exceeding five years, during which period the officer shall be paid a salary.
The optional provision was inserted during the committee stage discussions of the bill. The act will become law when the Governor ascents.
Minister Walwyn in October had strongly objected to the current law totally barring officers from working beyond 55.
"...There is a danger in that as well because you lose a lot of institutional knowledge and institutional history in a particular organization. I saw that happen in the police force over the years. A number of very good senior police officers went home almost like dominoes falling," he said.
Hon. Myron Walwyn, Minister of Education and Culture
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"You didn't even know they were gone. You saw them at the side of the road cooling out and ask, how come you ain't gone work, and they say you all send me home."
Minister Walwyn argued that policing is not just about running behind robbers.
"And they are going home with all that knowledge about policing…There is a major intellectual part of it, intelligence gathering that you get over time that is still very valuable to the force," he said.
He mentioned some of the good officers who were sent home, including Roy Stoutt and Mckenzie Baltimore.
"They are replaced in many instances with the younger ones. It's good to bring the younger ones, but you need to have a mix so that there is a transfer of knowledge between them," the Minister noted.
He said, "The same thing happened at the prison because there is a lot you can learn from prison work."