Dear Editor – The RSIPF has come under an unfavourable spotlight in the Solomon Star newspaper on Saturday, after allegations of the actions of its RRT members when executing an early morning operation to capture a suspect in his home village in Malaita Province on Thursday last week.
The allegations of the botched police operation first came to notice on Friday, when MP Peter Kenikorea and local rights activist Ms. K Ride raised their concerns over the manner of the police operation in separate media statements.
The RSIPF police commissioner in a late police media statement Friday evening discounted the earlier allegations leveled at his PRT members and their operation tactics, citing the police had come under sustained attack by villagers at Bethany village and had resorted to firing tear gas in order to escape personal injury while they retreated from the scene.
Given the nature of the police operation which went wrong, it raises questions about the reliability of police intelligence and security of their information, given it has been confirmed that the suspect they were seeking to arrest had fled Bethany village even before the dawn operation, but also according to the police commissioner the villagers were in waiting for the PRT members and began to attack them as soon as they arrived on the scene,
The second issue of concern to me is the lateness of the police media statement on the failed police operation.
A media release by the police media office on Thursday morning telling the story from the perspective of the RSIPF could have served to scotch any bad publicity that has again surfaced.
As the PR arm of the RSIPF I see it having a duty to fend off any wrongful, untruthful allegations that are made against the police service, but to do so in a timely manner and not (as been the case since Thursday) to have unduly delayed recounting the version of events from then RSIPF’s account of happenings.