Police investigation into traffic incident ongoing
A Police Officer involved in a traffic incident on the main highway in Vailoa on Monday remains on duty as investigations into the accident continue.
The collision, involving a Ford Ranger assigned to the Police's Tactical Unit and donated by the Australian government, occurred outside a Vailoa petrol station and investigations were continuing on Wednesday, police said.
“We have yet to complete the investigation into the traffic incident involving the police vehicle earlier this week; but in response to your questions recommendations have been made but I don’t make the call whether to suspend or not," a spokesperson for Police said.
"As you know Commissioner is overseas and will be back in the office next week".
Police Officers under investigated are recommended to be placed on suspension pending investigation according to official policy. However, the Police Commissioner makes the final call.
That was the explanation for the given by Police Superintendent, Soloi Iosefa who is Acting Deputy Commissioner, in response to questions from the Samoa Observer.
The police vehicle was driven by Corporal Jr Afereti who was running errands for the Tactical Operation Squad, said Soloi.
Asked why the traffic investigation has taken three days, Soloi said investigations were nearing their conclusion.
“There is one more aspect of the investigation before we complete the report is the footage from the gas station cameras and that will be available to the police soon," said Soloi.
“The owner of the petrol station is overseas and we cannot retrieve it until the owner is back."
Soloi took the opportunity to caution government employees behind the wheel of government vehicles to be careful on the road.
“These are government assets and it does not belong to you, therefore you must drive with extra cautious," he said.
"For police vehicles we have placed global positioning system (G.P.S.) trackers on our vehicles to assure the officers are using the vehicles for work purposes and not deviating from their mandated route.
"But for the vehicle in question we don’t have a G.P.S. on it."
He declined to comment as to why the police does not have a tracker on the Ford Ranger.
The Samoa Observer approached Corporal Afereti for comment; however he declined to comment noting the matter is being investigated.
At the scene on Monday, Tauapai Usoalii said the black car that had recently refuelled at the gas station was leaving and pulling out onto the main road when it collided with a passing police car.
"We were talking with one of my elders in front of our house, and then we saw the black car coming from inside the gas station and when it almost got to the road, we just looked away for a second and then we heard the bang," he said.
The collision left the small black car badly damaged. It lost its bumper and the car's front wheel axle was broken.