5 Oct 2015

PNG police boss says more needs to be done to remember lost

From , 5:04 am on 5 October 2015

The Papua New Guinea Police Commissioner says a memorial day for those who lost their lives in the course of duty should be held in greater esteem.

Police Remembrance Day was marked last week and Gari Baki says more should have been done across the Pacific to commemorate the occasion.

Mr Baki told Koro Vaka'uta hundreds if not thousands of police had died while on duty in PNG.

Papua New Guinea police officers marching in a parade

Papua New Guinea police officers marching in a parade Photo: Supplied

GARI BAKI: Remembrance Day must be the most important calendar event in the police services in Papua New Guinea or around the Pacific as we belong to a big family. I has to be a subject that has to be addressed by the Pacific Islands Chiefs of Police so that we don't only have it limited to police in Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Papua New Guinea or Solomon Islands, it's the entire policing community in the Pacific -- 21 Pacific nations must recongnise this day as a remembrance day for everyone. For Papua New Guinea, I am giving great attention to this for next year because I see that we don't celebrate in the way that we're supposed to be. We're supposed to be remembering our fallen comrades in a much more dignified manner than just having a service. So in 2016 there will be greater collaboration so that this is recongnised not only in Port Moresby, but in every part of Papua New Guinea. The 29th of September is a day that needs to be remembered and recognised throughout the entire country rather than just police headquarters in Port Moresby.

KORO VAKA'UTA: How will you hope to mark the occasion?

GB: This is a day that should not be restricted to the police; the public domain should be involved so that they know that the police - as a service - has such an important calendar in their history that they think about officers that lost their life. Right now, we're only limiting it to within the police chatter, only us police officers. It's something the public needs to become aware of so that they can appreciate that policemen's' lives are also... it's a risk being a police officer and police officers continue to lose lives, we need the public to be involved and become part of the police community in looking at that.  

KV: What's the extent of lives lost in service in Papua New Guinea?

GB: Since we've commenced the remembrance day programme, I don't have the exact figure, but I have also cast out people to backtrack because I know we first celebrated that, or remembered that, when had officers fall in the line of duty in Bougainville. So at this point in time I could just give you a guess that probably well over 1,000, possibly almost 2,000 officers falling in the line of duty.

KV: Why do you think that this occasion is not marked as big as it, or as well as it should be, in your opinion, across the Pacific?

GB: It must be recognised that this is a very solemn ceremony that we need to look at and give greater respect for it. Put it this way, these are people who committed their lives to being police officers and their lives have been lost unnecessarily in the cause of duty because they have been killed by criminals or something else has happened to them. So people need to appreciate that, it's not that you sit down and you remember and you tell them that you feel sorry about it, there's got to be a bigger involvement and for Papua New Guinea, as of next year onwards, I'm going to be involved in the members of the families of those officers that have fallen in the line of duty so that they feel part of the community, rather than being isolated out of it.

PNG police on patrol

PNG police on patrol Photo: AFP