Prison guards to go through Police Academy

By Soli Wilson 30 May 2020, 7:00PM

Prisons and Correctional Services guards will now be trained at the Police Academy after the organisation was merged with the Police.

Commissioner, Fuiavailiili Egon Keil, confirmed the changes to the guards’ training requirements. 

Some 44 new Police recruits graduated from a 15-week training course last week; Fuiavailiili revealed that some of the new Constables will be assigned to duties at Tanumalala Prison. 

He added that all existing Prison guards may also undergo Police academy training to take on out in the field duties.

"Some of these recruits will eventually end up in Tanumalala for assistance," he said.

"And all those who are at [Tanumalala Prison] will also be brought in to go through the same course, so at the end of this course, they are officially, legally, technically a Police Officer, but they can go back and work as a custody officer up there as a prison guard.

"Any new recruits for the prison will be required to come in here, so they can do both. Since it's one organisation now, anyone that applies for here can say after here, I'd like to go work at the prison."

The Police Commissioner assumed control of Prison and Correction Services two months ago, following a massive breakout of 29 prisoners. 

The then Prisons Commissioner, Taitosauā Edward Winterstein, resigned the day after the massive breakout.  

Fuiavailiili said at the moment, there were no plans for existing prison guards to patrol the streets. 

"They cannot wear a Police uniform and carry out Police work because they are not trained," he said.

"They do not know the policies; they do not know the law. And it is very risky for them in case something happens causing harm to other officers, but also in case they make wrong decisions regarding people's rights, we get sued too and we don't want that."

"That also gives the opportunity to the ones who are currently prison guards to apply to come in to be Police Officers. If they qualify, it's going to be a less stringent requirement because they have been working for the Ministry. So it's a little bit easier."

Currently, the Police force consists of more than 700 Police Officers.

But the Police cannot remain reliant on public cooperation, Fuiavailiili said.

"Ultimately it's all us that need to come together to keep Samoa safe," he said.

"During the [state of emergency]., so many provisions have been issued and the Police can't be everywhere. So all of us need to do our part and abide by the provisions of these laws.

"If everyone complies, it makes our job a little bit easier and a little bit safer for all of us."

By Soli Wilson 30 May 2020, 7:00PM

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