New Deputy Prisons Commissioner appointed
Just seven months after being promoted to the Assistant Commissioner of Samoa Police, Prisons and Corrections Services, Leiataua Samuel Afamasaga has been elevated to the position of Deputy Commissioner.
The appointment was approved by Cabinet this week.
Leiataua who took over the operation of the Tanumalala Prisons in November said he was blessed to have the opportunity to oversee the prison.
“Safety is my top priority, not only for our people in keeping the prisoners within the jail cells, but also our Correction Officers that work at the prison,” said Leiataua.
He was first appointed as Assistant Commissioner in September last year; three months later, Leiataua was transferred to oversee the prison.
“The main priority is rehabilitation programs for the prisoners to assist them in making better decisions and becoming law-abiding citizens to minimise re-offending,” Leiataua told the Samoa Observer.
The 39-year-old from Laolomauga, Leone, Nofoalii, Fasitootai, Loga Fagaloa and Solosolo joined the Police force in 1999 after graduating from Samoa College.
Leiataua says another major priority during his role will be to increase the workplace skills of Corrections Officers.
“They need to undergo refresher courses and because the Prisons is now under the umbrella of the Ministry of Police, the Corrections Officers are entitled to training and workshops conducted at the Police Headquarters,” he said.
“And that is significant in my view, given the Corrections Officers need refresher courses in ways to deal with our daily work, such as self defence, their approach must be to a professional standard.”
He said that most of his service in the Police force was as an investigations officer and a Police prosecutor for eight years at the District Court.
Leiataua told the Samoa Observer his goals include raising the standard of professional services the Ministry provides to meet the needs of the community, including quick Police response times.
“And [I] also [hope] to improve [the] Police’s approach and push them,” he said.
The father-of-four graduated from the University of the South Pacific in Fiji last year with a Bachelor of Arts and a double major in Pacific Policing and Management. He also spent one year in the Police maritime unit.
When speaking about challenges that Police officers face, he said they cannot please everybody but they will continue their work.
“There are times when we work overtime and despite having limited resources and crime [rates] increasing, we have to manage with what we have to fix those problems,” he said.
“I was also in charge of [outposts]; I want the level of the service provided in headquarters [to be] similar to outposts.
“When you just enter you are already satisfied with the service before you lodge your complaint.
“There are six outposts on the island of Upolu. We want to return the trust of members of the public to the Ministry of Police.”
Lei’ataua said he supports the Police Commissioner’s vision for professional service and to improve declarations of conflicts of interest.
“I thank God first, my wife and children, [and] also [the] Commissioner [Fuiavailili Egon Keil] for electing myself and trusting me,” he said.
“I also thank all the Police Officers I have worked with because of their hard work for the benefit of the organisation.”
The veteran Police officer also acknowledged the support he had received from the Manumalo Baptist Church.
He also served as a peacekeeper in Sudan from 2006 to 2008 and worked providing security to the United Nations in New York between 2011 to 2012.
“Since our new Commissioner came in, we learned a lot from him in terms of safety and security issues,” he said.
“He improved our tactical team, so every time we go to do raids I feel confident.
“I was one of the officers that were involved in one of the raids at Faleatiu. As a Police Officer, if I die it's part of my job.”