Tension remains high at police mobile unit HQ

Main Stories, National

The National- Monday, January 17, 2011

 TENSION is still high at the police special services division (SSD) headquarters at the McGregor police barracks outside Port Moresby as senior officers called for the national government to intervene in a stand-off between SSD members and members of a new special task force.

SSD officers had claimed as misleading comments by acting police commissioner Anthony Wagambie and his deputy Fred Yakasa that the driver of SSD director David Mannings was fully armed and drunk.

The driver, himself a uniformed policeman, was reportedly beaten to the ground before he was relieved of the keys to Mannings’ vehicle and guns and ammunition. 

“That is a fabricated story that has been given to the media,” a police officer, who requested anonymity, said.

SSD personnel had accused the commissioner of nepotism in setting up a special task force comprising reinstated officers who were suspended or terminated on serious charges and others who have court cases pending.

The SSD named three task force members as having serious disciplinary allegations, including one on attempted murder and another who was suspended after he shot at and nearly blew up a gas cylinder at the Kutubu oilfields in Southern Highlands.

The sources said their reinstatement into the force and the joint border patrol at the PNG-Indonesia border was a mystery.

They said a task force, established on an ad hoc basis, must have its own weapons, vehicles and other logistics provided under a separate arrangement.

The officers said the SSD was created under the Police Force Act and its members had refused to hand over weapons to the task force because of the fact that the mobile unit must be ready to quell any civil unrest and uprising at a moment’s notice.

The SSD members stated that the claims that the SSD director’s driver was drunk and fully armed were misleading.

One member said: “He is not a criminal. He was alone when he was confronted by the task force members who pulled the car keys from him. How they concocted the three empty beer can story is a mystery.”

The five-door Toyota landcruiser was allegedly taken at gun-point and the driver, who refused to hand over the keys, was punched and fell down before the suspended officers took the keys and drove away.

“The actions of the task force members are that of common criminals and not police officers. 

“The commissioner and his deputy, in misleading the government in their response, are condoning such criminal behaviour in the police force.”