NEW police chief Frank Prendergast says developing the leadership of the local police will be his key task over the next two years.
The Australian officially took up his new job last Friday, after taking his oath in office before Governor General Sir Frank Kabui.
“Leadership is the key to the future of the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) and it must start with the most junior constable,” Mr Prendergast said during a welcome parade at the Rove Police Headquarters.
“Developing the leadership of the RSIPF will certainly be my key task over the next two years,” he added.
An officer of 28 years with the Australian Federal Police, Mr Prendergast said the police need to be accountable for its actions and committed to service, and their duty.
“We need to be proud of ourselves and what we stand for,” he told his officers.
“Policing is not an easy profession and because of this we cannot accept poor behaviour or performance.
“Equally, we should always recognise, acknowledge and reward good behaviour and performance.
“We must above all show leadership – both within the RSIPF and the community.”
Mr Prendergast said the RSIPF have a number of challenges ahead of it, one of which is ensuring peace and order at the upcoming national elections.
“We also need to focus on preparing the RSIPF for the eventual withdrawal of the PPF.
“This means focusing on the development of leadership at all levels of the RSIPF.
“It means working hard to ensure that the back of house functions of the RSIPF such as finance, HR, and logistics are functional and sustainable.”
The police chief said the RSIPF need to ensure that the community and other stakeholders have confidence in the force.
“To aid in the development of that confidence, I intend as a priority for my senior officers to meet with as many community leaders and groups as well as other stakeholders as possible on an ongoing basis to ensure we understand and are appropriately responsive to community concerns and issues.”
Mr Prendergast was named for the position in mid-July and arrived in the country this week.
The position had been vacant since the beginning of the year when his predecessor was forced to quit amid controversy over his age.
Mr Prendergast’s appointment has drawn criticism from various local groups and members of the public but parliamentarians and government officials, including a former Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare, welcome the choice.
By SOLOMON LOFANA