Private Column by Frank Short, CBE
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Friday, 1 February 2013 12:00 AM

Policing a Clash of Cultures Part 11: The Command Structure

Excerpt from my memoirs.

The Command Structure was : a Deputy Commissioner as my deputy, with Assistant Commissioners responsible for admin, crime operations, NRSF.

Another Assistant Commissioner commanded the Honiara police separately. Chief Superintendents commanded the Police Academy, the Fire Brigade, the CID, SB and Traffic. The senior female officer ranked as Chief Inspector.

The structure also allowed for an establishment of other ACP’s in the larger provincial commands including Guadalcanal and provincial areas of Auki and Gizo.

At the time of my arrival the provincial command positions were occupied by Chief Superintendents. This structure had by now gone down its own path, due to a mixture of politics and situational requirements.

The whole organization was overwhelmed with senior ranks, uncoordinated to a large extent and having a confusing mix of duties. It was like a tree – when planted it grew fine for the first few years then got out of hand as no one trimmed it.

However, the most serious drain on personnel and finance was the rotational deployment of the NRSF on permanent border protection duties. One could say they were the roots of the tree.

Considering we were well below authorized establishment to start with, this was a heavy burden on manpower. The Honiara uniform officers had to deal with petty theft, assaults, incidence of drunkenness, housebreaking and traffic accidents. Much of the crime and road offences were associated with high unemployment, urban drift, lack of housing, alcoholism and the influx of second hand motor vehicles that poured in from Asia, to run on inadequate, poorly maintained roads.

There was yet another problem concerning the police executive which I soon discovered within days of assuming office.

I had mentioned earlier that the Mamaloni Government had talked of structural reform in order to moderate spending to aid the ailing economy. A down sizing of the civil service, including the police, had been proposed some weeks before with the suggestion of redundancy packages on offer to those willing to retire.

When my appointment became known, my entire senior executive officers, including the Deputy Commissioner, all of whom had individually bid for the top job, decided to apply for redundancy and at my first meeting with them they made their position clear telling me they were only waiting their “packages” before leaving the force.

In the event, the Mamoloni Government lost the election and the incoming administration shelved the previously announced redundancy plans.

My job became all the more difficult, however, knowing they harboured some grudge against my appointment. It took the promise of overseas attachments in community policing to motive them, but also a good deal of hard work on my part to encourage their support.


To be continued …

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