Respect for the law

Fred Wesley | Thursday, December 21, 2017
The Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama delivered a very powerful message for police officers yesterday.

The reality of officers involved in criminal activities is unacceptable, he said. No title and no office can be used as a shield from the rule of law, he said.

Mr Bainimarama spoke at the passing-out parade for 127 police officers at Nasova in Suva yesterday.

The PM said he was greatly dismayed by the crime statistics last month, "where we had five police officers charged with non-sexual offences and another three with sexual offences".

That, he said, was unacceptable. The Fijian people, he said, "deserve far better from those entrusted with their safety. And I am here today to tell you, we expect and demand better from all of you".

The force, he said, would continue to strip away any layers of corruption within it.

It is the faith of the Fijian people, he said, that takes the biggest hit when such officers go unpunished.

He reminded officers that they were now taking up the call that few had the honour to answer.

We agree with the PM that a police officer's job is not easy. It isn't for the faint-hearted.

Policemen and women will face long hours at work. They will stare at danger in the face so to speak.

When people are running away from natural disasters for instance, policemen and women are expected to be on call.

When thousands of people get the opportunity to enjoy the festive season, policemen and women are expected to be at work, upholding the laws of our country, to ensure we all get to enjoy ourselves.

They are expected to protect us from law breakers.

They are expected to be beacons of hope in the fight against crime.

They stand between law-abiding citizens of our country and criminals. They give us hope and a sense of confidence and safety. They are men and women we should be able to turn to when we feel threatened.

As the PM pointed out, police officers must put aside concern for their own wellbeing and protect those who cannot protect themselves.

Mr Bainimarama yesterday also reminded officers that they should be unbiased in the lead-up to the 2018 General Election.

It is a massive challenge for any officer.

But it is expected of our men and women in blue.

They are not expected to take sides.

Surely the people of Fiji expect each member of the police force to be steadfast in their commitment to uphold the laws of our country. A police officer's life is tough, his job demanding, and his commitment to the values of law enforcement expected.

Without a doubt, the force needs reassurance and a great deal of encouragement. It needs the support of the people of Fiji. Congratulations and acknowledgement are in order for our new batch of officers.

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