Police Commissioner David Manning is back at the helm again, and efforts towards ensuring a more professional police constabulary in the country is being renewed and improving.
He also supports the Commission of Inquiry into the police constabulary, saying he is in constant dialogue with his Minister and the Prime Minister and welcomes this to improve accountability.
On Thursday, in a short press conference at the Police Headquarters at Konedobu in the Nation’s Capital, Commissioner Manning reassured the public of this, following huge riots in Port Moresby and Lae when police held a stop work strike over salary concerns.
Businesses were looted and burnt down, and deaths were also reported.
Dubbed ‘Black Wednesday’, the events made it on the international world news.
But today, Commissioner Manning gave an optimistic view following these events, which included investigation progress, and the work police are doing to inspire and instil public confidence in the police.
“It is pleasing to see that that the city (Port Moresby) has resumed some sense of normalcy.”
“We still feel that there is still much more to do in terms of returning back to what the city was before the events of Wednesday 10th of January 2024.”
“And the constabulary is very much mindful that we have a long way to go in terms of reconnecting with the communities that no doubt feel that we’ve let them down, re-establishing ties with our communities, ensuring that we build on what we’ve done post the incident, making sure that we again enjoy the confidence of our communities, especially in the residence of our Nation’s Capital.”
“So you see, in the last couple of weeks, schools have started without any delays.”
“We have businesses open again, government services open again, and I’m satisfied with the level of effort in terms of getting the city back to what it was pre-10th of January 2024.”
“As for the constabulary, we continue to hold ourselves accountable for what has happened.”
But this, he further said does not mean in any shape or form that police have stopped doing what is expected of them; this includes the continued roll-out of the constabulary’s re-fleeting program.
Commissioner Manning explains: “So the 130 vehicles that we procured last year, 24 have been distributed in NCD alone.”
“In fact, today (Friday 9th Jan, 2024), DC (Deputy Commissioner) Specialist Operations, Donald Yamasombi will be heading off to Lae to gift the Northern Command’s allocation of vehicles and of course we’ll roll it up to the Highlands Command and the New Guinea Islands, including the Autonomous Region.”
The Police Commissioner also stressed that: “What happened on the 10th, the actions of members of the Constabulary are by no way a reflection, a true reflection of our sense of duty to serving our people and our country.”
“It will always be that 1% or a small fraction of the force that drag all of us down, that water down all our efforts that we’ve embarked on in professionalizing the force.
“But let me assure the country that we will continue to hold those accountable and continue to ensure that we do it in a transparent and accountable manner so as to not only acknowledge and take ownership of what transpired on the 10th, but also taking the necessary steps in order for us to ensure that it does not happen again.”
Meantime, the Constabulary’s ongoing Internal Affairs investigations into the incident of Wednesday the 10th, has resulted, so far, to fifty individuals to be processed throughout its disciplinary system; with some, considering evidence in support, could also face criminal charges.
Commissioner Manning reveals so far, the President of the Police Union, holding a rank of inspector, is facing both disciplinary and criminal charges.
As the investigation runs, some officers in command positions will still be on suspension, such as the commander for NCD Central Command, Anthony Wagambie Junior, and the Police Commissioner clarifies that this only is to allow the Internal Affairs to ensure facts are established, and to deal with members of the police force accordingly.
“We’re committed to ensuring that we hold ourselves accountable and that is exactly what we’re doing.”
“I need to acknowledge at this juncture the efforts and the commitment of the consuls, the sergeants, the inspectors, the commission officers that stood firm around the country to ensure this incident in Mooresville did not have a domino effect around the country.”
“And I continue to appreciate their efforts during that time.”
“So again, a clear demonstration that the one percenter of the organization basically brought the whole organization into disrepute.”
“But the 99 percent of us, they continue to make sure that we observe the oath of affirmation which we swore upon joining the force, the code of ethics that we abide by every day.”
“They held true and fast to that and ensured that the rest of the country did not fall victim to what we saw in Port Moresby or experienced in Port Moresby on that day.
“So, with that, we’ll continue to ensure that we hold ourselves accountable and make sure that the police force regains that position of trust by our people, by our country.
“There’s nothing I can say or do at this point in time to water down what happened on the 10th of last month. We’ll continue to better ourselves.
“Our internal affairs process, our disciplinary process, this will give confidence to us – I believe it will give confidence to ourselves and the organization as well as those who expect us to do our jobs.
“We are serious about making this police force something that is in a position of trust and pride for the country and our people.”