POLICE are in the process of acquiring new weapons under the Staged Limited Rearmament Project.
Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Police and National Security, Edmund Sikua, said under the exercise only three units within the force are being trained to handle the arms.
They are the Police Response Team, the Close Protection Unit, and police operating at international airports.
“Cabinet has already given us the approval to purchase the weapons,” Mr Sikua told a media workshop organised by RAMSI on the limited rearmament exercise, Tuesday.
“We are now in the process of acquiring those arms,” he added.
The cost of acquiring the weapons has not been disclosed.
But the purchase will be done either in Australia or New Zealand.
Mr Sikua said the new arms to be acquired will include shot guns, pistols, and rifles.
“There will be no military-style weapons,” he explained.
As part of the limited staged rearmament, Mr Sikua said a new National Response Department facility has been finished, and will be officially opened in the coming weeks.
“The facility will house the Close Personal Protection team and the Police Response Team – the units that which will be rearmed.
“It will also include a new high-security armoury to store the firearms.
“The armoury has state-of-the art access control and security features, which will ensure only those authorised will be able to access the stored firearms.”
Mr Sikua also said RAMSI has been providing training for officers who will handle the weapons.
“I am advised that the training is going very well and the selected officers will soon be ready to be armed,” he said.
He added this was a rigorous training done to world class standard and that those who’ve failed have been removed from the programme.
“RAMSI has also helped the Police Commissioner to finalise the accountability and governance rules and systems to ensure the firearms are handled responsibly and appropriately,” the permanent secretary said.
He added the next and final step is to agree to the carriage and use of the firearms.
“This decision will be made when Cabinet is satisfied that all necessary training and infrastructure and governance arrangements are in place.”
Mr Sikua, who is leading the rearmament exercise, said he is confident in the work of the Limited Rearmament Project.
“Some work is yet to be done and the ministry together with RAMSI and the RSIPF will be working to ensure that they are completed.
“With all the preparatory work and the professional training of RSIPF officers, I am confident that the Limited Rearmament of the RSIPF will assist the Police Force to make this country safer and enable the police to deal with dangerous and armed offenders.”
The exercise was design to ensure local police are armed when RAMSI police leaves in June 2017.
By EDDIE OSIFELO