Editorial comment – Attention to detail

Acting Police Commissioner Juki Fong Chew at the Fiji-NZ joint training workshop in Suva, on friday March 24, 2023. Picture; ELIKI NUKUTABU

Fijians and visitors to our shores deserve police officers who are professional, calm, and collected. That’s the point driven through at a two-day workshop in Suva by Acting Commissioner of Police Juki Fong Chew.

Speaking at the closing ceremony of the Fiji Police Annual Consultative Workshop in Suva, Mr Fong Chew told senior police managers there were times when the Force needed external auditors or stakeholders to “shred us apart and tell us what we may not want to hear or know”.

The workshop included panel discussions with representatives from regional law enforcement partners, representatives from the media, civil society members, former diplomats, government stakeholders, retailers’ associations, and retired police officers.

He said he hoped the forum made the officers look at leadership from a different lens. Leadership, he said, was not from the senior level down, but rather the other way around and it was their duty to empower officers under their command.

Senior police managers were told to prioritise building a strong relationship with the community. Resolutions included: strengthening of community partnership efforts by enhancing multi-sectoral approach and effective partnerships; enhancing interoperability between police and its policing partners in the region; empowerment of officers for leadership development; enhance working relations with the media through more engagements; and the strengthening of intelligence and investigative capabilities.

Mr Fong Chew directed that there be quick implementation of resolutions.The goal is to restore public confidence and trust in the policing profession which is encouraging. We reflect on reports against the police, and the negative impact they have had on the image of the Force locally.

Police work came under scrutiny internationally in the wake of the death of George Floyd on May 25, 2020. Floyd, a 46-year-old black American man, was killed in Minneapolis, Minnesota during an arrest.

While he was handcuffed, police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for several minutes as Floyd begged for his life. He eventually died, the four officers who were at the scene were all fired after videos of the incident went viral on social media.

It ignited a wave of emotions and protests against police brutality in the US and in major cities around the world.That video, and subsequent images taken off that incident were a major slap on the face of police work, affecting perceptions and adding fuel to the fight against police brutality.

Police work is not for the faint-hearted.Our men and women in blue have their work cut out though. In the face of global attention, they have a very important role to raise the profile of the force, reassure the people, and maintain law and order.But everything starts from within.

That means every officer must strive to be disciplined and uphold the laws they have sworn to safeguard. That calls for total commitment. It requires discipline, and a willingness to never allow their emotions to dictate their actions when it matters.

Our police force cannot do this on its own though and will need our support to make things happen. We each have a role to play, to maintain law and order, and peace and security for all Fijians.

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