Tia Belau Editorial, August 15, 2013 —-
The reason that criminal offenders are incarcerated is to remove them from doing more harm to the people and the community. But in recent weeks, the confidence of the public of living in a safe and secured neighborhood is waning thin.
The fear and concern they’ve witnessed have been reinforced by the two recent juveniles who escaped from jail to rob and injured a Japanese tourists in his hotel room and sneaked back into jail afterward, apparently with items belonging to the Japanese man.
Last August 6, Judge Materne added another year of jail time to a man who escaped for a binge of alcohol and was only caught later after he fell asleep on the bench inside the jail after sneaking back inside.
These are just two of the recent jail episodes among others, which have been happening frequently that have bridged two different administrations.
One of the very first actions of this administration was to place both the previous Director and the Deputy Director of the Bureau of Public Safety (BPS) on administrative leave. The reason given was that an assessment of the BPS operations could be conducted in a fair and without the police officers and staff providing information under an atmosphere of fear or duress. Attorney General Victoria Roe was named and served for several weeks as acting Director of BPS by the Minister of Justice (MOJ).
The Director and the Deputy – two highest law enforcement officers of the bureau eventually resigned from their positions, around the time the BPS Internal Tactical Assessment Report conducted by the Attorney General was completed.
“The internal Tactical Assessment Report contains information that was gathered for the sole purpose of providing MOJ and BPS leadership with a view of BPS’s present situation as a means of better understanding the challenges and shortages faced by BPS operations and personnel,” states the MOJ/BPS Strategic Assessment Report dated March 18, 2013.
The Minister of Justice also ordered AG Roe to conduct an assessment on the Bureau of Public Safety based on the list of issues raised in the Remengesau Transition Committee’s Report and to submit the results of the assessment along with any improvement recommendations for his review and consideration.
From the summary of the Division of Correction (DOC), the top two main concerns of the 13 jail officers and one civilian employee of the DOC are: 1. All 14 employees reported that they do not have enough manpower to secure the DOC and 2. All 14 employees also reported that they do not have enough proper equipment to secure DOC. We wonder how these concerns have been addressed after the release of the report.
The following are also the recommendation of the assessment team on improving conditions at BPS:
- New leadership at the Director and the Deputy Directorship level is recommended. BPS needs leaders that are committed to improving BPS and are qualified to implement and sustain the following necessary changes.
- The new leaders will have to take BPS back to basic and implement programs to re-plant the seeds or re-enforce the Police foundations of competence, integrity, professionalism, public trust and support.
- By first developing and implementing a continuing strategic development plan or road map to achieving the desired BPS professional standards through the following actions:
The assessment team also recommended revisiting and improving Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) or develop and implement SOP for:
- Division of Corrections
- Division of Fish and Wildlife
- Division of Criminal Investigation and Drug Enforcement
- Division of Fire and Rescue
- Division of Marine Law Enforcement
- Division of Patrol
- BPS Internal affairs/complaints
- BPS Drug Policy
- Emergency Response
- What is true emergency
- Search and Rescue/Rrecovery
- Mediation and Family Crises protocol
- Deadly Force Policy
- BPS Incident Command System
- Administrative Support SOP
The assessment team further recommended developing and continuing to provide targeted training to successfully implement the foregoing SOP and also provide needed police training identified through this assessment:
- Police Code of Conduct/Ethics
- Police Professionalism; and Career Development
Another recommendation provided is to change the Public Service System Regulation to give the Director of BPS, the flexibility and authority to transfer or rotate BPS Division Chiefs to assignments at other divisions.
In addition, there were further recommendations to continue to re assess BPS’s progress, update strategic plan and implement new programs or continue existing programs and in-service trainings to maintain and or improve BPS professionalism and standards.
It is hope that priority will be given to the recommendations to provide support for the issues cited in the Strategic Assessment Report. It would complement BPS role in combating the crimes and violence that have beset our peaceful (use to be peaceful) community.