Today, I wrote an article relating to the official ground breaking ceremony for the security base in Lofang.
I expressed my views in that article of how I thought the Prime Minister had used his speech on the occasion to talk about peaceful cooperation on the border with close neighbours in the maintenance of border security.
I personally had past experience in operating routine police operations in the Shortlands area when in command of the police service in the Solomon Islands and was always conscious of ensuring close relations with communities on both sides of the waters between the Solomon Islands and Bougainville in Papua New Guinea.
Accompanying my article today, I attached a photograph of a RSIPF fast patrol craft which had first been published in the Island Sun newspaper
A reader of my article on Facebook very quickly commented with some disparaging remarks relating to some of the text of my letter but particularly pointing out that a figure at the front of the fast craft appeared to be manning a machine gun.
I have to be honest that I had not noticed the “machine gun” in the photograph and only hope that there is not a deployment of such weaponry by the RSIPF on peaceful patrol missions.
During my time in office I laid down very strict orders on the use of arms, and I will quote just two of them.
The Use of Force by the Police.
Ever mindful of my duty of care, both to the public and the police service here are just a couple of orders.
“The members of the Solomon Islands Police should be able to carry out most of their duties without having to resort to force. Conflict resolution skills must be learned for resolving all types of conflicts.
“We must be committed to the use of minimum force when dealing with incidents.
The members of the service must, therefore, have access to training and equipment, which obviate the need for force to resolve problems. Any laws and police regulations,which act contrary to the use of minimum force, should be amended to bring them in line with international standards. Although the members of the police service will still need to be issued with adequate equipment to protect them in dangerous situations,they must only be issued with weapons which are appropriate to the situation they are likely to encounter.
“It should be constantly borne in mind that, however well justified a police officer may consider himself in firing, the act, whether it results in loss of life, or otherwise, may become the subject of investigation. He must therefore be prepared to prove that he acted with humanity, caution and prudence, and that he was compelled by necessity alone to have recourse to firearms. At the same time he must not be deterred from doing what, in the circumstances in which he is placed, appears to be absolutely necessary, as a last resort, in the interests of law and order.”
End of quote.