Cleaning up? Start at the top

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Dear Editor

Re: P.M. denies receiving petition, ghost letters

Thank you for your summary of the present crisis within the Samoan police service. From reading this prima facie affidavit, or deposition, by the collective Plaintiff parties, four officers from the police rank and file according to this summary of complaints and allegations, to be precise, from within the Samoan police service against the Police Commissioner, evidently seems to reveal a police culture that is divided by personality, family connections, community connections and religious, political affiliations and leanings.

In many respects, the cases presented seems more in line with rank and file dissension for the respective disciplinary directives ordered by the Police Commissioner himself, directed at his subordinate officers with regards to their performances of their duties. 

Clearly dissension has led to an internalised revolt within the rank and file for a seemingly draconian Police Commissioner who seems more attuned with setting a particular standard of policing in which the present rank and file are unfamiliar with. 

Clearly, then the Samoan Police Service is in need of a revamp and overhaul which has been considered a cultural shock for many of the subordinate rank and file.

Prima facie, the lack of police cultural understanding, discipline and cohesiveness, has resulted in a very transparent public spat amongst dissenting officers spilling over to the political process. 

This has clearly led to unprofessional personality clashes amongst individual officers affected which invariably have besmirched the Samoan police services repute not only domestically, but, most visibly, internationally as well.

Whilst, on the whole this appears to be a storm in a tea cup, in actual political ramifications and national security concerns, the situation of infighting amongst police officers is indicative of a lack of police cohesiveness and integrity. 

If the police themselves are lacking in integrity how would this ill discipline reflect upon the unquestioned authority of the long arm of the law upon the attitudes of the community it serves can only be considered cringe worthy, at best, and unresponsiveness and a lack of respect for the men in uniform, at worst.

Overall, the police service must repair the damage to its impeccable reputation from the present crisis.

Some of the obvious recommendations which come to mind should be considered by the Ombudsman. 

Firstly, a vetting process must ensure that the right person is appointed to the Police Commissioner position. That such a person is fully cognizant of the local police culture, the rank and file, winning their hearts and minds is a process that requires a period of interaction with fellow rank and file that is long and in depth. 

A person parachuted into the highest police officer rank is not considered astute by an appointment committee or made as a political executive appointment.

Secondly, internalised police matters complaints must be dealt with internally first and foremost before they are leaked to the media and certainly paraded to the world through the social media for global scrutiny.

Thirdly, that the four aforementioned officers, complaints must be dealt with separately and should not be presented in any judicial hearing dealing with the present Police Commissioner’s court proceedings, since they are circumstantial to the present immediate Police Commissioner’s case of unprofessional conduct.

Finally, if the officers lodging their official complaints are themselves considered to be unreliable, their evidence ought to be struck from the charges being alleged against the Police Commissioner. 

Also, that these officers be disciplined for apparent dissension and summarily dismissed from the Police Service.

In summary, the present crisis seems plain and simple. Many rank and file did not appreciate a Johnny Come Lately, becoming the Nation’s highest ranking police officer without first getting to know the people who were his subordinates. This is important for any culture. 

Like a politician, you cannot simply parachute into an electorate and claim to be the Faipule and or high chief when the local chiefs never knew you at all.

 

Ma le fa’afetai lava.

Timoteo Tufuga

© Samoa Observer 2016

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