I was very pleased to read an article of the official opening of the new Kia Police Post in Isabel Province.
Replacing the temporary structure that was first built on the site in 1996, the replacement Post was solely funded by the Solomon Islands Government at a cost of about $1.3 million and is some tangible evidence of the government’s commitment to ensure policing services are continuing to be supported post RAMSI.
At the opening ceremony the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Police, National Security and Correctional Services, Ms Karen Galokale, said the establishment of the Post would further strengthen the partnership between the RSIPF, the Isabel Provincial Government, and the Kia community.
The new Kia Police Post comprises of an office building and residential building for the single officer that will be manning the Post.
The concept of the building, consisting of both an office and accommodation for the resident community based police officer, was the basis of planning and the model for police posts that I raised in 1997 when, as the then Commissioner of Police, I called for the construction of similar police posts throughout the provinces to support my policy of community policing.
One of the very first communities to construct their own police post was the one at Loina in Malaita and I attended the opening ceremony along with the then Premier of Malaita province and community leaders.
It wasn’t long after the opening of the Loina Police Post that the reconstructed Police Post was opened at White River, built entirely from scratch by the very able members of the RSIP Maintenance personnel, under the command of Inspector P. Matoko, BEM. The funds for the re-construction had been given by the then resident New Zealand and British High Commissioners, following a joint appeal.
Another post followed at Point Cruz and subsequently plans were given to me by the Honiara Chinese community intent on building a Police Post in China Town. Unfortunately, that proposed development did not materialise before the onset of the “troubles’ caused civil conflict.
My ideas in re-shaping the RSIP in 1997 began with a tiered approach and with a wide distribution of first line policing services provided by stationing community police officers in what I envisaged to be neighbourhood police posts.
That policing model, had the Solomon Islands Government (SIAC) had the money (and it has to be recalled the government had a massive US2 million debt on assuming office in August 1997), would have seen community constables supporting village chiefs in exercising their traditional authority, provide early warning of any security problems and thereby facilitate a quick and early response to incident reports.
The idea was that the provincial neighbourhood police posts would be supported by regular patrols from provincial headquarters or by personnel of the then NRSF.
As I reflect on those early years (1997-1999) and the policing model of community policing that is only now being reintroduced following the advent of the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI) and more money available in the SIG’s coffers, I can only say ‘better late than never’ but nevertheless greatly welcome the tangible signs of development in furthering the RSIPF’s community policing policy.