Solomons police chief seeks to reassure an anxious public

8:11 pm on 2 March 2017
RSIPF PRT  members demonstrating live firing certification at the Tenaru Firing Range

RSIPF PRT members demonstrating live firing certification at the Tenaru Firing Range Photo: RAMSI Public Affairs

The Solomon Islands police commissioner is seeking to reassure communities anxious about units taking up arms again that the police force is ready.

Commissioner Matthew Varley said communities he had visited had voiced concerns about the rearming of the force after 14 years without firearms.

The force was stripped of its weapons when an Australia-led regional assistance mission arrived in 2003 after several years of violent ethnic conflict.

During that conflict, known to many locals as "the tensions," much of the police arsenal fell into the hands of militants and certain elements of the force took sides in the conflict.

Since then, the Regional Assistance Mission (RAMSI) has been rebuilding and re-training the police force, and trying to restore the public's confidence and trust in it.

As RAMSI prepares to depart in June, and police units become re-armed, Mr Varley said he has been trying to reassure communities that he leads a different force in a different time.

"The police force today is well trained, well equipped and highly disciplined, more than two thirds of the police force have actually been recruited since the times of the tensions," said Mr Varley.

"In addition to that, what I have satisfied myself of is that by and large we have a very good committed and capable police force and a very highly disciplined police force and the officers that I am working with are committed to their roles and are committed to service of the community."

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