Police force facing challenges

Editorial, Normal

The National, Tuesday March 1st, 2016

 PERHAPS the only government department that seems to come under fire almost on the daily basis is the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary. 

Time and again we, the suffering public, have had to put up with the various shortcomings of the police force. 

From the numerous instances of brutality – too many to list and guaranteed to continue – to the wrangling in the upper echelons of its command.  

Every week we see on television, read in the newspapers and hear on the radio of instances of police officers carrying out a form of rough justice on citizens and sometimes among themselves. 

Two senior NCD-based officers were only last week charged with the attempted murder of a fellow police officer who was attached to the National Fraud and Anti-Corruption division. 

Before that another two were charged with causing the death of a man outside a night club in the capital. 

Added on to this is the fact that a certain well-known and high ranking police officer based in the department’s command centre in Port Moresby is apparently at loggerheads with the Police Commissioner Gari Baki, who, when appointed last year, promised to clean up the mess the force had currently found itself in. 

Their disagreement has been played out in the public must to the detriment of the force’s reputation. 

But dwarfing this in-house matter has been Baki’s frank admission that his department had basically mismanaged in the first two years the K267 million five year police modernisation programme. 

The commissioner said his officers were not trained to be project managers. 

One hopes the good commissioner was not putting a disclaimer on the use of the funding over the first 24 months of its disbursement. 

If money intended for improving the force has been misspent, wasted, misused, redirected and unaccounted for then he has a big problem on his hands. 

His credibility and that of his office is very much being called into question and the logical thing for him to do would be to settle any issue regarding the use of the money.  

The men in blue certainly have their work cut out for them to earn back the public’s respect and trust. 

It has dawned on those of us, who observe the force on a daily basis that while a genuine effort is made from time to time to collectively be professional and effectively and efficiently carry out their duties, progress has been both slow and in many instances stymied by taking two steps forward and one step back. 

The reasons for this poor productivity is blamed on the usual argument, that funding from the state is inadequate  which in turn affects every other process and programme down the line. 

Manpower and logistical capabilities are, on many occasions, not able to answer every call. 

Another problem is that recruitment and training of perspective personnel is an expensive exercise but more importantly does not guarantee a certain quality of police officer. 

With the country’s jails are struggling to keep their prisoners locked and serving their duly allotted sentences, the police force also having problems of their own that the powers that be do not seem to be capable of addressing.  

Chief among those is the inability to investigate and build sound cases against individuals charged white collar crimes. 

While any manner of violent crimes are usually solved or should we say solvable, the police section tasked with tackling corrupt practices in state departments and the corporate sector does not seem to have a high success rate. 

It is time that significant time, resources and effort be put into addressing this imbalance in crime solving. 

While violent robberies, break-and-enter offences and petty street crime continue to plague the public there is no doubt the biggest losses (thefts) are being perpetrated by the educated well-placed individuals at national and provincial level and in collusion with members of the private sector. 

That is where police need to focus their efforts. 

They need to stop the rampant corruption that is playing a much larger role in bringing the country down to its knees and keeping it from taking bigger strides in development. 

We hope also the Australian Federal Police personnel stationed in the RPNGPC posts in NCD are making a difference and that the police are continuing to make genuine efforts to improve their service to the public.