Police Commissioner David Manning has defended his recent transfer of senior police officers saying these were made in the best interest of the Constabulary and the country and were within his powers as the Commissioner of Police.
Mr Manning made this statement following media reports of six police officers who have taken the Commissioner to Court over the recent transfer directives he issued.
Mr Manning said the Police Commissioner has the authority to issue directions to officers regarding the conduct of criminal investigations, applying for arrest warrants, laying of charges, and the deployment of members of police force anywhere within the constabulary and country.
He said the Supreme Court made the interpretation in 2014 when it dealt with constitutional issues relating to the commissioner’s powers with regards to arrest warrants and contempt charges.
“Justice David Cannings, who gave the ruling on behalf of Justice Colin Makail, Justice Don Sawong, Justice Goodwin Poole and Justice Lawrence Kangwia, said then that the ultimate power of command and the primary responsibility for operational control of the police fell within the domain of the Commissioner of Police.
“If officers run to the courts every time a transfer directive is issued then we will get nothing done. This is a disciplined organisation where there is supposed to be command and control and one police commissioner. If officers are unable to comply with directives issued by the Commissioner then they will have to seriously reconsider their continued employment within the Police Force.
“Transfer directives are made from time to time by the Commissioner of Police in consultation with the two deputy police commissioners and where necessary the respective divisional assistant commissioners. This was the case in the recent transfers and this is intended for the effective and efficient management of the Constabulary,” Mr Manning said.
The Police Commissioner said in the case of the six officers, one has withdrawn his case and is taking up posting as PPC Morobe. The other five officers have cited a breach of contract as the reason for their court case.
However, Mr Manning said besides the change of postings the officers do not lose anything. He said these five officers are uniformed officers and continue to earn the same salary.
“It has now come to my management’s attention that all the five officers are also over the compulsory retirement age and will need to be retired immediately. My management will have to review the previous transfer directives to compensate for the imminent exit of these five officers,” Mr Manning said.
Further, Mr Manning said that when he was appointed as Police Commissioner he took measures to do away with contracts for senior police officers from provincial police commanders to directors as this affected the effective administration of the Constabulary.
“Whilst I understand that the performance-based contracts were initially established to improve performance of officers and reward them accordingly, we just did not have the capability or capacity to manage those contracts as intended. What this has done instead is to erode the authority of the Office of the Commissioner of Police to deploy officers as and when required.
“Whilst performance-based contracts may be a thing for the future, without the capability or capacity to manage them these contracts become counter-productive and detrimental to the effective command and control and administration of the Constabulary.
“In fact contracts created a way for officers to question and refuse to accept directives from the Police Commissioner and further provided them with the justification to go to court as now being experienced in this recent case,” Mr Manning said, adding that he will defend his directive in court.
Mr Manning said he is mindful that the National General Election is a year away and decisions have to be made now to strengthen the planning process for the security operations.
“I need officers in place on the ground now preparing for a free, safe and secure 2022 National General Elections. If officers feel that they cannot deliver for whatever reasons then they must indicate now. I need good strong committed and disciplined officers who are team players and 110 per cent in the serious business of protection and serving our citizens,” Mr Manning said.