Fifteen Police officers from the Samoa Police Service have graduated with the Operational Safety Trainer (O.S.T.) Qualifier Programme Firearms and Defensive Tactics course.
After five weeks of training, the officers have now become certified O.S.T. trainers.
The graduation was held at the Tamaligi Police Station. Three O.S.T. instructors from the Solomon Islands carried out the training.
The programme is an initiative by Samoa, the Solomon Islands and funding partner, Australia.
Among the 15 graduates, were two females, Nepa Papalii and Vaimoana Krieg.
According to Ms. Krieg, the eldest child of Susana Mann and Ronnie Mann, from the villages of Tiapapata, Tanugamanono and Satufia Savaii, it was a challenging experience for her.
“It feels like a great achievement. It was not easy. It was a big challenge especially for us females, in doing our techniques and handling a firearm. It requires a lot of care and seriousness in our job.”
“Here in Samoa it is different. Culture is there to handle everything and with the experience we had with firearms, I just hope we won’t use our firearms. But if we have to, then we have to be confident enough to do so,” said the 27-year-old.
When asked about the driving force behind her achievement, she said: “Being a female and waking up being just two females was a challenge. I wanted to be above them and I am not saying that this is a competition or anything. I wanted them to see that it was not a hassle for us girls, we are all the same.”
Ms. Krieg is calling on all women to be confident in not only what they do, but also themselves.
“Believe in yourself that you can do more and don’t fear what people might say. Just be who you are and strive for the best and what you want to be.”
The Mission Commander Samoa-Australia Police Partnership, Peter Timson, says the training and the initiative is to promote relationships between the Pacific Islands.
“So we have the Solomon Police here training the Samoan Police. Like last year, we have sent Samoan Police to assist the training of the Vanuatu Police. So it is about developing capabilities in the region and recognising the skills that are in this country.”
“We had to get the approval from the Solomon Commissioners for the officers to be released, paid for their airfares and accommodation here,” he said.
One of the O.S.T. instructors, James Tome, from the Solomon Islands, this experience for them was remarkable because they did not only get to teach the Samoan Police officers, but also learn from them.
“The main purpose of the training was mainly dealing with the officers in knowing the best options of when to use which force in certain situations.”
“You have to pick up the right force to use, that was the aim.
“All around, the Samoan Police have the legislations and laws in the legal use of force, but they have no practical side. That is why we are here. Now they know and they understand how to use whatever options.”
“The gun that they were using to train the Police Officers was the glock. It is a pistol 9 millimetres.”
“For this training, we only train with the glock 17, a pistol 9 millimetres, that is the only weapon that they are qualified in. They have other weapons and maybe in the future we could qualify them in those different kinds of weapons.”
“It is only when there is a situation when they need to use the firearm then the commissioner would give those orders or the Prime Minister, and then the commissioner could pick on those who now know how to use the gun,” Mr. Tome adds.
He mentioned they will be here three weeks longer to train another team under the same programme.
“There would be 12 of them, the other three dropped out but there was supposed to be 15. There would be three females coming on board for the next.”
“It was a bit challenging training the females, but in Samoa the females are different from where I come from. They are really smart and they fit in well with the males during the training. Not like where I come from, there is a barrier between the females and males.”