Police in the Southern Highlands Province are taking stock of manpower, police issued firearms and vehicles in the province as part of its pre-election operations for the 2022 National General Elections.
Provincial Police Commander (PPC) Chief Inspector Daniel Yangen, who has recently taken over the command, said he needs these important details before he can commence pre-election and election-proper security operations.
“We currently have on record 224 policemen and women in the Southern Highlands Province. However, I will have to conduct a manpower audit to confirm whether this number is actually present in the province. Parades will be conducted in the following week to cross check names to ensure the current manpower list of 224 are actually on the ground,” Mr Yangen said.
Mr Yangen said the names of policemen could be on the list but most of them may not be in the province.
The PPC said the role of police is to provide security to ensure the electoral process takes place as smoothly as possible.
“I am also taking stock of firearms in the province. Most of the firearms are registered under the names of individual police officers. All firearms will be checked and registered under the command and not under individual members. Some of these firearms were purchased by the provincial government for police to use but a number of those firearms are still in possession of individuals,” Mr Yangen said, adding that he has directed these policemen to return the firearms to the Police armoury in Mendi.
He said these firearms have to be brought back into the police armoury and reallocated to locations considered hotspots for security operations for the 2022 National General Elections.
Mr Yangen said the same will be for police allocated vehicles. All vehicles will be identified and reallocated accordingly. He said individual policemen should not be holding onto and exclusively using these police assets.
“I am strongly warning individual police officers to comply with the instructions. If they do not comply with this directive then they would be charged administratively and followed by criminal charges for illegally using police issued firearms, weapons and vehicles,” Mr Yangen said.
He said he is not waiting for resources to come from headquarters to conduct security operations for the national general election. He said as much as possible current manpower and assets will be reallocated to ensure security is provided for the election to take place.
The PPC also warned that he will not tolerate policemen in uniform driving civilians in private vehicles. He said policemen will only use police allocated vehicles.
“I do not want police officers to be escorting intending candidates. For the current sitting members, I must be informed if authorisation has been given for Close Protection Officers which is usually from the Office of the Commissioner of Police. Otherwise, there should not be any police officer attached with any leader, whether sitting MPs or intending candidates,” Mr Yangen said.
Mr Yangen appealed to the leaders and their supporters to respect the police and allow them to do their constitutionally mandated responsibilities without fear, favour or undue influence.