Letter: Diminishing Commissioner’s role unfair, inaccurate

Recent descriptions of Samoa's Commissioner of Police, Fuiavailili Egon Keil, as "only a desk Sergeant in the Los Angeles Police [Department]" comes across to this reader as unfair and pompous.

Maybe this letter will help clarify the baseless remarks. Fuiavailili deserves better.

I have known Fuiavailili Egon Keil throughout his entire career as a police officer and Sergeant with LAPD.  After nearly two decades of service with the Los Angeles Police Department [L.A.P.D.], Fuiavailili, before leaving the department, was on the Police Lieutenant's list awaiting promotion.  Fuiavailili passed the department's rigid exam process for both the Police Sergeant and Police Lieutenant’s positions.  Fuiavailili, while he was still with L.A.P.D., and I talked on several occasions; I focused mainly on trying to convince him to stay with the department and to continue onto a promotion in rank.   

Fuiavailili decided otherwise and he left the L.APD; to return to Samoa where his heart truly yearns.

A Sergeant on the L.A.P.D. is the first line of supervision with enormous responsibility including being held to account on decisions (tactical, administrative or civilian) made during Police procedure.  

Typically, a desk Sergeant or Sergeant is an assistant or watch commander in-charge of a shift of patrol officers and other Sergeants.  

A Sergeant's duties vary with their assignment.  A Sergeant watch commander, besides being in-charge of watch duties (Days, Nights; or the Graveyard shift) also has to take on his or her duties which  include responding to all major Police operations occurring in their area of policing.  

The desk Sergeant would take charge of the operation until it is completely resolved or he or she is relieved of command. The desk Sergeant ensures lives are protected as well as controlling all department assets that respond.  That responsibility is no-easy-task, especially if the incident involves on-going shooting by armed suspects.

Fuiavailili fulfilled all tasks as a watch commander or desk Sergeant without incident or loss of life to a citizen or Police officer(s).   

Egon Keil was a hard worker; his life was in peril daily while working the streets of one of the biggest cities in the USA.  He has been exposed to various challenges involving criminal behavior and its horrific aftermaths.  Fuiavailili's working record with the L.A.P.D. are testament to his sense of a morally sound character guided by strong principles of ethics and morality. 

He was entrusted with sensitive personnel investigations. Personally, there is no doubt that if Fuiavailili remained with L.A.P.D., he would have continued to climb the department ladder. I could go on but I have provided adequate information to support this letter to all who think a desk Sergeant is a menial position in the L.A.P.D.  Fuiavailili truly does deserve more respect from the people of Samoa before he leaves his position after six years of service as the nations Commissioner 

I was one of several L.A.P.D. supervisors who provided a reference to Fuiavailili skills when former Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi began to search for the nation's next Commissioner. Several other American Police professionals submitted letters in support of Fuiavailili when he applied for the job of Commissioner of Police.  We all felt that with Fuiavailili's unquestionable integrity, ethics, extensive training and experience with the L.A.P.D.; his service would enhance Samoa's policing capabilities to mirror that of Police in the United States of America. .  

Without going into details that may compromise ongoing criminal operations in Samoa; let me just say that Fuiavailili does not put his officers in danger without him being right there with them. He is a true leader by every sense of the word.  In my extensive police career, I have rarely seen a Police Executive do what Fuiavailili continues to do with his troops.

Hopefully, his replacement will do the same. To lead by example; to take care of his or her personnel as if they were family.  Then with clear direction and the troops’ support - focus totally on community safety and improving the quality of life of those that law enforcement agencies protect and serve. 

I am myself a Sergeant (Ret.) following 34 years at the L.A.P.D.'s Special Weapons and Tactics (S.W.A.T.) unit. I have worked for the L.A.P.D. for a total of 44 years, after returning to the S.W.A.T. team as a Reserve Police Office,

Ernie Haleck

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