The implementation of the decision by the Solomon Islands Government for a limited re-introduction of lethal firearms into the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force, RSIPF is progressing well.
The RSIPF and the Ministry of Police, National Security and Correctional Services are working together with the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands, RAMSI, to implement the various stages of the project, which will see a small number of police officers trained in the use of firearms.
Minister for Police Chris Laore says he is pleased with the progress made so far by the various agencies involved in implementing the limited firearms re-introduction.
He says given the need to protect our people and members of the RSIPF from criminal elements within our communities, RSIPF must have the necessary training, oversight, secure storage and eventually the equipment to do their work effectively.
He adds, Solomon Islands is also obliged to maintain an armed police presence at the international airport whenever flights come into the country.
Minister Laore says with the sensitivity surrounding the issue, the Government is slowly implementing the project step by step with each stage endorsed by Cabinet before moving forward.
He explains, as a start, only three units within the RSIPF will be re-issued with lethal weapons – the Police Response Unit, the Close Personal Protection Unit and the international airport police.
Meanwhile, Acting RSIPF Commissioner, Ms Juanita Matanga says, with assistance from the RAMSI Participating Police Force, PPF, a schedule of training has been developed and is being implemented for officers from the various Units identified for the limited re-introduction of lethal firearms.
Ms Matanga says only officers from these units will have access to firearms when they have passed the rigorous training and met the high standards of discipline required of them.
She emphasised, there will also be ongoing monitoring of the RSIPF – officers that do not measure up to the high standards will undertake further training or will be removed from the program.
Special Coordinator of RAMSI, Ms Justine Braithwaite says, the limited re-introduction of lethal firearms into the RSIPF is among the major activities in the RAMSI PPF Drawdown Strategy 2013-2017 signed by the Solomon Islands Government, the RSIPF and RAMSI in October last year.
Ms Braithwaite says RAMSI is fully committed to the delivery of these activities including the limited re-introduction of firearms in order to place the RSIPF in a position to deliver on its mandates in providing security to the people of Solomon Islands.