The RSIPF steps up its operational deployment and community policing approach amidst Covid-19 threat in the western border region of the Solomon Islands
The newly appointed Commissioner of the RSIPF, Mostyn Mangau, recently made his first visit to the Western Province in a move to underline the seriousness the RSIPF plays in keeping the western border safe from any entry of COVID-19 following the spike of coronavirus cases in Papua New Guinea and the most recent development in Bougainville where one person contracted the coronavirus disease.
The Commissioner’s visit has seen additional visits to the border area by his deputy, Juanita Matanga, who met with the Council of Chiefs on Mono Island.
During the meeting with the Council of Chiefs, the Deputy Commissioner explained her visit by saying, “My visit to Mono Island and other islands in the Shortlands this week is to discuss with you a concern by the Government and the RSIPF about the access for police operations as the country continues to put in measures to prevent the COVID-19 entering our country through the western border from Bougainville.”
“And to make sure police is able to carry out its operation for the safety of our country we need to have a mutual understanding between the chiefs and the landowners of these islands and the RSIPF to allow free access to your islands for the purpose of carrying out the COVID-19 operation.”
“I want to ask the chiefs, landowners and elders of this island to give free access to my officers to allow them to move from island to island without any restriction to enable them to carry out their duties effectively,” “To keep our shores free from COVID -19 it is our responsibility to work together.”
“I really appreciate the permission granted by the chiefs, landowners and elders of Mono for the two islands in Mono specifically Soana Talu and Kopuria to be accessed by RSIPF officers manning the western border when there is a need.”
It is encouraging to learn of the RSIPF’s community efforts and to know of the benefits being derived from such an approach to community policing.
I noted in recent days, the FAMOA Council Chief Lawrence Hotomo) and the Member of Parliament for Shortland Islands Constituency Mr Christopher Laore made a call in a joint statement issued on Tuesday for all people of Fauro, Mono and Alu to take every necessary precautionary measures to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 from across the Border from Bougainville.
Community Policing, first introduced in the Solomon Islands in 1997/98 with a successful launch in Honiara and in Malaita and a community built police post at Loina, encourages interactive partnerships between the police and the people they serve. By developing connections within the community, police are better informed and empowered to solve public safety problems, as being evidenced in the border regions today.
I would advocate for further community policing engagements for it is increasingly becoming apparent that there are a number of social issues in the country that have worrying implications if left unattended.