Solomons Police Commissioner’s Comments About Force Criticized

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Solomons Police Commissioner’s Comments About Force Criticized John Lansley allegedly called RSIPF personnel ‘blank canvas’

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, June 28, 2012) – If the impression given by the comments of our new police commissioner as reported in last Friday’s Solomon Star, Police Face Security Hiccup ahead of Festival, is accurate, it would seem we have made a very grave mistake with the appointment of John Lansley to the country’s top policing job.

In a statement issued today, former national politician Joses Tuhanuku said it appeared that Mr. Lansley may have neither the experience nor the leadership skills required to effectively lead the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF).

"As someone who has worked closely with the RSIPF in recent years, it is most disheartening to hear the new commissioner describe the men and women of the RSIPF and their plans for dealing with the upcoming Pacific Arts Festival as a ‘blank canvas’," Mr. Tuhanuku said.

"Such a comment on the eve of a major security operation by the RSIPF is not only extremely demoralizing and therefore counterproductive but it actually reflects very badly on our new commissioner and his capacity to inspire and lead our police force."

Mr. Tuhanuku said that there is no doubt that the Festival provides a major challenge to the RSIPF which is a small force with only modest resources to draw on.

However, contrary to the view expressed by the Police Commissioner, Mr. Tuhanuku said he like many others, had confidence in both the RSIPF and the general public’s commitment to making this a trouble-free festival.

"This is not wishful thinking, but is based on some very recent examples of some very solid policing by the RSPIF, the most relevant being their sustained and highly effective provision of security throughout the nation during the general elections in 2010."

Mr. Tuhanuku said that if Mr. Lansley wanted to make a useful contribution in his year as commissioner then he should do his homework and properly inform himself of the steady progress made by the RSIPF in recent years across all areas of the force from the academy through to public order management.

Recent incidences of excellent public order management demonstrated by the RSIPF include their effective handling last November of the agitation attempted by some elements in the wake of the election of the Prime Minister as well as more recent police operations during the Oceania Cup, Mr. Tuhanuku said.

"This last event actually took place after Mr. Lansley became commissioner and his failure to recognize this as a very good dress rehearsal for the Pacific Arts Festival suggests he might perhaps be looking at the RSIPF and indeed Solomon Islands through the lens of his experiences of a decade ago.

"In 2003 both the country and the RSIPF were in disarray," Mr. Tuhanuku said. "But we have moved on, and John Lansley needs to recognize this."

Mr. Tuhanuku said that Mr. Lansley’s comments as reported appeared foolish and ill-considered.

"What police commissioner in his right mind, announces to the rest of the world, including those criminal elements who may wish to exploit the situation that his force is not up to the job?"

The Commissioner needs to learn that an important part of leadership is communicating effectively both with his own officers and with the general public, Mr. Tuhanuku said.

"It is particularly crucial during this transitional period as RAMSI winds back its commitment to frontline policing in this country, that every opportunity is taken to build up the community’s confidence in the RSIPF, " Mr. Tuhanuku said.

"Whether he intended it or not, the commissioner’s recent comments, revealed a fundamental lack of confidence in the officers he has come to lead.

"However, Mr. Lansley’s comments suggest that if anyone lacks the experience and is a blank canvas, it may well be the commissioner himself."

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