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Top Cop calls for more women officers

Police Commissioner, Fuiavaili'ili Egon Keil, has challenged women to “shatter the glass ceiling” in terms of recruitment into the male-dominated law enforcement sector.

Speaking on Tuesday when the Samoa Police Service joined other law enforcement agencies to mark Police Remembrance Day, Fuiavaili'ili said one of his priorities is recognising the contribution of women to law enforcement.

“One of the priorities that I made from the beginning is you have to recognise the hard work of women to contribute to law enforcement,” he said.

“There’s always been an issue overseas as well and I saw that’s a big issue here, undermining women and marginalising women, and I’ve seen a lot of smart women and very motivational women with their hearts being in the right place.

“I can see that there was a glass ceiling in the Samoan police. Well shatter that glass ceiling. We cannot have glass ceilings especially when we need time in our environment here.”

2018 marked the first time in the Samoa Police Service’s history when more women underwent the Police Recruitment Course to train to become officers. At that time there were 44 recruits in the class with 28 being women.

Serving in the Police has always been dominated by male officers, however, Fuiavaili'ili wants to see that changed and is of the view that the profession should be restricted to a certain gender.

The capabilities of officers engaged in law enforcement should be merit-based, he added and also pointed to the need for leadership and morality. 

“Once you start building that, discipline and integrity, honesty and compassion, reverence for the law and all those things come in when moral comes up,” he emphasised. 

“I need smart people regardless of where they’re from and what background, male or female.”

Samoa’s pioneer female police officer who joined the Service in 1965, Tavui Anne Eves-Laumea, spoke of the challenges she faced in the early years of her policing career in an interview with the Samoa Observer.

She said one of the biggest hurdles she faced was overcoming the perception that policing was only reserved for men.

"In our families, parents and brothers are too used to the belief that girls should be protected and so when it's late night shifts at work, parents back then banned their daughters from taking their shifts which obviously affected their work," she said.

"And I see that that continues to happen today with the female officers. Also, the majority of us believe that this profession is only for boys and only for boys can do the job but no. So long as you have the heart that this is your area, and you have the right skills and knowledge for the job, then you know it's your field."

Tavui added that it is refreshing to see the number of female officers in the Police increasing and appealed to parents to trust their daughters and believe in their ability to do the job.

"Being a police officer takes up a lot of courage if you're willing to go all in and parents should be proud of their daughters if they take up this profession," she added.

Tavui retired in 2001 while she was heading the Police Criminal Investigations Division and is currently leading a group of former Samoan policewomen who call themselves Tofa Sinasina.

The group of 13 former police women run a crisis counselling service for victims of domestic violence.

Another leading women police officer currently in the Service is the Deputy Police Commissioner, Papalii Monalisa Tiai-Keti, who became the first women in Samoa to hold the rank of Deputy Commissioner when she was promoted in 2018.

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