Police call on public support to enforce S.O.E.

The Samoa Police Service lacks capacity to fully enforce the Government-declared state of emergency to mitigate the threat of coronavirus (COVID-19).

The manpower challenges were revealed by the Police Commissioner Fuiavaili'ili Egon Keil on Saturday during an interview with the Samoa Observer.

He said the Police is relying on the community voluntarily complying with the S.O.E. orders in order to keep the country safe.

“There is not enough police to monitor all parts of the country and see who exceeds the limited number of people (gathering) and capture all of them,” he said. 

“All these things including the shops shouldn’t be looked after. Ideally, the police shouldn’t be monitoring these things. We’re all adults and we know what the law is so please obey the law.”

Reports of public gatherings around the country, including for funerals – in breach of the S.O.E. orders – have reached the Samoa Observer. Attempts by this newspaper to get comments from a family in Magiagi, who were allegedly behind a public gathering for a funeral, was unsuccessful.

Fuiavaili'ili said the Police have issued warnings against public gatherings and highlighted the penalties for breaches.

In the phone interview on Saturday, the Police Commissioner said the Police will now step in when there are breaches of the S.O.E. orders.

“If you don’t want to listen then you’ll probably end up getting a ticket or arrested. It’s been months long so far for this and the Police are done with the warnings and we’re now going to handle the job on how it’s supposed to be handled.”

Less than 10 tickets have been issued for breaches of S.O.E. orders thus far, according to Fuiavaili'ili, who anticipates arrests being made for three to four tickets due to the non-payment of the stipulated penalties on Saturday.

“We gave out several verbal and written warnings so far and we now ticket. I think there will be some people who’ll be arrested today (Saturday) if they don’t show up,” he said. “You have 24 hours to pay up the ticket and if it does not happen then you’re subject to be arrested. So we have about three or four cases like that that we’re awaiting for.”

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