31 Jan 2013

American Samoa police head wants force armed

1:42 pm on 31 January 2013

The American Samoa's new Commissioner of Public Safety is seeking permission from the governor and lieutenant governor to allow police officers to carry guns.

William Haleck says given the types of crimes police respond to nowadays, officers need to have a weapon handy.

He cited the police shooting in front of the territory's High Court in 2009, where officer Lieutenant Lusila Brown was gunned down by a man who came to watch his relative's case in court.

Mr Haleck says if he gets the approval, he will order guns in from the US mainland and train up local police officers to use them.

"It's a time for a change. It's unfortunate but the way our community is and the way the world is today things are changing and we have to be prepared. My purpose of arming the police officers is to protect the public, (and) to protect themselves."

William Haleck says it may take some time, but it is a priority to get police officers to carry a gun, so they can do their job effectively.