FORMER cabinet minister, Alfred Sasako, has welcomed the new Commissioner of Police, Frank Prendergast, who formally took up his controversial appointment last Friday.
Mr Sasako said he’s pleased Mr Prendergast has identified leadership at constable level as a priority area to develop during his two-year tenure at the helm of the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF).
“I support fully that leadership is the key to the future of the RSIPF,” Mr Sasako said in a statement.
“That leadership, I must add starts at the top. Leadership at the top has been missing since the days of Englishman, Frank Short, who instituted a range of measures that saw a remarkable turnaround in a short time in restoring leadership, image and community respect to the RSIPF,” Mr Sasako said.
“I am so pleased that Commissioner Prendergast has identified leadership as his top priority.
“The people of Solomon Islands as his constituents are very much looking forward to the execution of the visionary leadership the Commissioner now espouses,” he said.
In exercising leadership in the RSIPF, Mr Sasako said the Commissioner must show firmness and focus, adding many before him had lost both virtues during their stint largely because of political interference.
“I urge the Commissioner to be firm and focus on the need to restore respectability to the fine police force he now commands.”
Mr Sasako said one of the areas that the new Commissioner must address is the need to put in place a mechanism that gives members of the PPF a leading role in specific areas of operations where local officers lack expertise and experience.
Salary levels of police officers also need to be addressed as a measure to counter politicisation of the RSIPF through bribery which is rife in the force.
This is an area that has given the public every reason to lose confidence in the force.
“The public believes that the RSIPF has become a security force for the rich and powerful. It should not be.
“For example, criminal cases against national politicians continue to be swept under the carpet because there is no leadership at the top to ensure alleged payment of bribes to senior police officers or investigating officers are stamped out.
“In this regard I urge Commissioner Prendergast to turn his new broom inward so that the RSIPF house is put in order and to form the basis for an extensive cleanup of the RSIPF,” Mr Sasako said.
He said the new Commissioner should never worry about community support because as soon as the police’s house is in order, the community will rally behind the RSIPF.