Gov’t orders review of benefits for servicemen killed in line of duty

Government yesterday announced approval of $1M to be given to the family of policeman Antonio Dawson, who was stabbed to death in the line of duty, and plans are also in train for an overall review of benefits for slain officers.

Constable Dawson, 27, of Goed Intent, West Bank Demerara, was stabbed to death by a mentally unstable man in September, after he responded to a call to assist in apprehending him. The man subsequently took his own life.

Minister of State Joseph Harmon told a press conference yesterday that at Tuesday’s meeting of Cabinet the $1M was approved to be given to Dawson’s family and Cabinet also decided that a review of the policy was needed to ensure officers are given their due.

In 2002, the then People’s Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C) administration put in place a policy where $1M would go to the families of officers who were killed in the line of duty.

Antonio Dawson
Antonio Dawson

“Cabinet deliberated on this matter extensively and recognised that in circumstances where certain persons were giving service in the disciplined services, we needed to ensure that, in the event of their death, that we put in place a stronger regime that would take care of the families of those who died,” he said.

“Cabinet has given the Minister of Public Security the responsibility … of revising this situation since the regular positions of the NIS and the Dependent’s Fund would not cover the ranks when they are very young. They would not have the coverage for that,” he added.

Commissioner of Police Seelall Persaud had said in October that a Police Force Fallen Heroes’ Fund would also be established to assist the children of police officers who died while in the line of duty. “I am currently talking with members of the Cops and Faith Community Network and a local businessman to establish a non-profit organisation that will be dedicated to fund the education and general welfare of the children of police officers killed in the line of duty,” he said.

Former Assistant Commissioner Clinton Conway had stated that he felt funds for fallen heroes were needed and aid should also be extended to those also disabled while on the job.

“I hasten to make a clarion call to all peace-loving citizens including members of the business community and the government to support the call for assistance not only to the survivors of Fallen Heroes, but also those permanently disabled in the line of duty,” he had written in a letter to Stabroek News.

“Remember, policemen took an oath to serve the state of Guyana without favour or affection, malice or ill will and to cause the public peace to be kept and preserved by preventing to the utmost of their powers all offences against the same. Let us continue to support them even after death,” he also wrote.

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