In the line of duty : Waiting an eternity for welfare benefits

February 13, 2017
@Normal:Pall-bearers carrying the flag-drapped coffin with the remains of Detective Seargeant Courtnie Simpson during his funeral in May, 2013.
Samantha Simpson
Jermaine Barnaby/Freelance Photographer Samantha Simpson has been waiting an eternity for the state to determine the level of welfare benefits to which she is entitled. Her husband was murdered in 2013.
Samantha Simpson
A photo of detective sergeant Courtnie Simpson who was murdered in 2013.

On a Monday night in April 2013, Samantha Simpson was in the shower at her family home on Pearl Avenue in Harbour View, St Andrew, when the sound of gunshots startled her. She rushed to the veranda where she found her husband Detective Sergeant Courtnie Simpson, lying in a pool of blood with his firearm pulled from its holster. He was dead.

With the sudden responsibility of raising their young son by herself, Simpson has been waiting for nearly four years for the State to determine the extent to which she would be paid welfare benefits.

At present, beneficiaries of police personnel who are killed in the line of duty are to be paid a gratuity of $8 million while those who die in service should receive a sum of $4 million, according to the Jamaica Police Federation.

"From my understanding, my husband's file was sent for a ruling on whether he died on duty or off duty," Simpson said. "But my understanding is that a policeman is always on duty because if something happens he is expected to respond."

Secretary of the Police Federation Cecil McCalla explained to THE STAR what happens when a police personnel is killed.

"When officers are killed, a report is made from the division where the investigation is being done, then the report will be sent to the office of the commissioner, and a determination is made based on the report whether it is duty related or not," McCalla said.

"If an officer is called to act and he fails to respond, that is also criminal negligence. So even if he is not deployed from his station and the entry made in the diary and he is out there, he is expected to perform his duties."

McCalla said that if a policemanor woman is killed out of uniform and had not been not requested to perform his/her duties as a member of the force, then he/she wouldn't have been killed in the line of duty.

Simpson believes that her husband was responding to a crisis when he was killed as he fired three shots at his attacker.

"I think it's [Courtnie Simpson's file] holding up because he was killed at his gate but he was carrying a service pistol and he fired three shots at his attacker," Simpson explained.

When THE STAR contacted Julian Robinson, who Courtnie Simpson was assigned to as a bodyguard at the time of his death, he said that he did not wish to comment on the matter.

THE STAR also has tried unsuccessfully to find out from the Office of the Commissioner of Police why a determination has not yet been made on whether Courtnie Simpson was killed in the line of duty.

The lawman served the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) for more than 20 years. He was last assigned to the Protective Services Division.

Now, his widow, who works as a guidance counsellor, says that she is fed up with the tardiness of the Government.

"If you don't ask what is going on, it will just sit there. So I have been doing a lot of reading so I can fight this process," Simpson said.

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