A FEW Units within the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) will be armed once all that is needed to be done is completed.
Police Commissioner Frank Prendergast at the weekly police conference yesterday said there is a high level committee over-seeing the rearmament issue.
He was responding to questions asked on how soon the RSIPF would be armed.
He said training for those few units that will be armed has been ongoing and is very well advanced.
“The Governance and policy which is nearly complete has been developed in conjunction with the Police Participating Force (PPF).
“We are nearly there.
“The purchase of the firearm which has been approved by the Cabinet is proceeding through the system at the moment.
“Once all the building blocks are in place, there is a very important element that we need to be satisfied with and that is the culture of the RSIPF.
“I as commissioner have an assurance that once RSIF rearmed, we will manage those weapons and new sounds weapon appropriately in accordance with law.”
Mr Prendergast said when all those building blocks are in place including the issue of culture, the committee which involves himself, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Police, National Security and Correctional Services as well as RAMSI special coordinator and some other people will make a recommendation to the government that the police force is ready to be rearmed.
“When we are talking about rearmament, we need to remember that we are talking about limited rearmament.
“So the only elements that we will be rearming are the officers from the Police Response Team, the Close Personal Protection team and we will have an armed presence at the airport as required under the international treaties.”
The police chief said when they think they are ready for the limited rearmament the committee will make a recommendation to the Cabinet.
“But the finale decision to rearm is with the cabinet.
“So it will be a government decision and would need to be satisfied with the advice from the committee that we are ready.
“If you look at drawdown of the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) which comes to conclusion in middle of next year, it is important that the police have an armed capability.
“For me to put a date on it is too premature, until we are satisfied we are ready.”
He said everyone can be rest assured that the committee is taking its responsibility very seriously.
The units that will be armed will be accommodated in the new multi-million dollar building that was opened last week.
The new building for the National Response Department will accommodate the new armoury, an armourer’s workplace, offices for the Police Response team (PRT), Close Personal Protection team (CPPT) and the Explosive Ordinance team (EOT), male and female barracks accommodation and firearm unloading bay.
By ASSUMPTA BUCHANAN