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Monday, July 30, 2007

Solomons Police boss embarks on image rebuilding exercise for proposed rearmament programme

By Deli Oso, Press Secretary to the PM

Commissioner of the Solomon Islands Police Force, Mohammed Jahir Khan is embarking on a major image rebuilding exercise for the national law enforcement authority as a prelude to the proposed rearmament programme.

Mr Khan told a Press Conference on Friday afternoon that his immediate focus was on creating a positive public perception on the Solomon Islands Police Force after the ethnic tension and the 2006 Honiara April riot.

He admitted the image of the local force had been tarnished by the involvement of some cops in the ethnic conflict and the 2006 April Riot however those ‘odd officers’ had been removed and thus vowed to embark on an image-rebuilding exercise before proceeding with rearmament.

“We have to manage the perception first. We must manage the perception and have more interaction with the community in order to take the message of the police across.”

“What we have today is a police force minus those 560 odd police officers who took part with the militants during the riot (2006 Honiara April Riot) and the ethnic conflict.

“We have recruited since then about 270 new police officers into the Solomon Islands Police Force and they are very young people. They are the people that

need to be given the opportunity to gain maturity in the police force and this can only be done through encouragement and guidance,” Mr Khan stressed.

He said he had requested additional funding from the government to change the pacific regional police uniform used by the Solomon Islands Police Force to the original Solomon Islands Police uniform as part of that image rebuilding initiative.

The police commissioner said he had decided to engage police personnel from Papua New Guinea , Fiji , Vanuatu and Tonga serving with RAMSI in armed protection for the Prime Minister, the Governor General and other government officials in the meantime.

He said he had consulted the coordinator of the RAMSI Participating Police Force on the engagement of pacific islanders in the police Close Protection Unit and had already begun discussions with his counterparts from those countries he wanted to involve in the armed protection duties.

Mr Khan said Solomon Islands Police personnel would be slowly integrated into the Close Protection Unit at the time he thought appropriate.

The Police Commissioner cautioned that the Participating Police Force would not be in Solomon Islands forever to protect the national leaders and hence the local police force must be prepared and allowed to eventually take on that role again.

He expressed disappointment over the media’s adverse reporting on the police saying such reports would certainly have an effect on their morale and performance.

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