The National, Monday 08th April, 2013
NEWS that the Royal Papua New Guinea Police Constabulary is embarking on a modernisation programme is surely a boost in confidence for all concerned and law-abiding citizens of this country.
This initiative is something that the government of the day must see through.
For far too long, safety and peace in our communities have been held at ransom by criminal elements and our under-manned, ill-equipped police force has fought an increasingly difficult battle to uphold order and the rule of law on our streets, highways and villages.
The force will receive an extra K267 million over the next five years to implement the programme.
At a three-day unveiling in Port Moresby, attended by Prime Minister Peter O’Neill accompanied by Police Minister Nixon Duban, men and women in blue had a rare opportunity to showcase to the public the different aspects in their fight against crime and how the modernisation of the force will improve the lives of the people they serve and protect.
“We have a unique opportunity to correct past mistakes on the back of our economic boom,” O’Neill said.
He was pleased with the government’s investment in police weapons, vehicles and uniforms.
He urged police officers to serve the people and make PNG a better nation.
“Our people will start having confidence in the police for the security of our country,” O’Neill said.
Every facet of the police force should be looked at in the programme and given funding that is in keeping with its function and load on a daily and annual basis.
Perhaps the area that needs to be looked into foremost is the welfare and recruitment of police personnel.
Often, police officers in stations around the country are expected to carry out their duties while managing on a barely adequate funding.
One of the most common responses to the police’s inability to patrol and respond effectively to situations within a precinct has to do with the lack of fuel for vehicles, manpower and equipment.
If our police stations can be headed by the best managers who have the well-trained staff and the best possible logistics and equipment available, then the crime rate in our cities and towns will be kept in check.
This in turn will cause investors’ confidence to grow.
And since we are in a so-called economic boom, the amount of foreign investment not just in terms of business but also in the number of visitors to this country will rise.
Currently, PNG is rated as one of the most dangerous countries to visit.
This is not because we are necessarily more violent or in the grips of widespread civil disorder, but simply because we cannot police ourselves effectively.
Put simply, our police officers cannot manage the instances of crime or deter those that commit crimes to a level that is deemed competent by citizens, let alone those in other countries.
This modernisation programme is not only a step in the right direction but also it has been a long time coming.
Allocating funds will not solve all the force’s problems.
There must be real efforts from the police hierarchy and the government to push these changes through.
Now is the time to practise “discipline” – a word so often accorded to the force.
We need a better trained, better equipped and better managed police force to bring law and order issues under control.
That is what we think is the underlying idea behind the initiative.