Policing a Clash of Cultures Part 27: Our Now Improved Law and Order Policing
Excerpt from my memoirs.
Policing Honiara presented huge and unique challenges because of the wide range of law enforcement issues needing to be addressed.
The national capital was the centre for considerable business activity, a major port of entry and the seat of government. This had produced a high population density, mushrooming informal settlements, youth unemployment and a poorly maintained road structure.
To effectively police Honiara it needed close community support and efficient use of all our police resources, including personnel.
We put considerable effort into improving the police image by strictly enforcing discipline, equipping the members of the force with replacement, smarter uniforms and by ensuring the proper and authorized use of police vehicles.
A community policing initiative saw its beginnings in and around Honiara where I personally visited borderline areas and later extended visits to the eastern and western sides of the capital, including Gold Ridge Mine and St Joseph’s Mission.
Once it was clear that community policing as a concept was proving acceptable to the community at large, as well as helping to reduce reported crime levels, I thought it essential to create a Community Policing Unit. Here I was fortunate to have the support and financial help of both the Singapore Police Commissioner and the Japanese Government in providing training.
Our Deputy Commissioner was one of the first to attend community policing courses in Singapore and in Japan. He was followed by several other selected personnel, including Superintendent Leslie Mason, who was from the Western Province.
In the Pacific, especially, community policing is effective policing. If the police can relate to and understand the different cultures of the community, they will successfully be able to gain public approval. By gaining approval, the police can increase the effectiveness of law enforcement in partnership with the people they serve.
I firmly believe in the principles of community policing and the reason why I made my first call on the Singapore Police Commissioner to get his help in training the members of the RSIPF in the planning of community policing programmes for the Solomons.
The return of the newly trained staff meant I could begin to launch intensive community policing outreaches across the breadth of Guadalcanal and into provinces such as Malaita.
I envisaged the building of neighbourhood posts in key areas in the provinces to provide a positive police presence as a first line response to community needs.
The community at Loina on the island of Malaita had now built their own police post, constructed from sturdy bush materials, and I was privileged along with the Premier of Malaita Province to officiate at its opening.
In Honiara, following the successful construction of the White River Police Post, community involvement saw another post opened in the Point Cruz area and the Chinese community drew up plans for the building of a police station in Chinatown.
We were on a roll. I was generally satisfied by the first quarter of 1998 with what cosmetic changes had taken place in the police service.
The community now had more confidence and trust in the Force and the evidence of this was in lower crime statistics, fewer road accidents and incidences, better morale in the ranks and smarter, cleaner police facilities, at least in and around Honiara.
The successful hosting of the Melanesian Arts and Cultural Festival in mid-1998 was the highlight of the year and the police handling of the security details was widely reported and praised.
To be continued ..
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this letter are those of Frank Short, CBE and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Solomon Times Online.
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