The launch of a new policing model has handed the Cook Islands Police Service a refreshed commitment to taking on its role for community safety and security, says Police Commissioner Maara Tetava.
However, the new policing model comes with plenty of challenges.
The Prevention Operating Model (POM), announced by Commissioner Maara Tetava on Monday during a special ceremonial event, sets out clearly defined demands on the police, which extend beyond policing criminal activity, into fully encompassing the prevention of harm within the community.
The core challenge to the police, Tetava said, is for officers to change the way they think and do their jobs.
The call was to operate with a prevention mind-set that looked “outside the box” of responding to crime whenever it occurs, he said.
“In a world changing under the harmful influences of alcohol and drugs, family violence, road trauma, wayward youth, maritime risks and vulnerabilities, as well as the unknown quantities associated with cyberspace and transnational illegalities, today’s Police Service has considerable demands placed upon it.
“These key demands now form pillars around which the police will tackle crime prevention – or “Beat Crime Soundly” as has been adopted as the motivating theme for the Prevention Operating Model.”
The five drivers or “demands” – alcohol, roads, family harm, youth, and maritime, were where the majority of police work was undertaken, said Tetava.
Each was distinct but also inter-related as many of these concerns impact upon one another in destructive ways, he added.
The launch of the new policing model was supported by the New Zealand Police as part of their ongoing programme of cooperation and assistance for the Cook Islands.
New Zealand Police Superintendent Eric Talbot provided encouragement and praise for the efforts of the local police.
Tetava said the new operating model represented a very clearly defined approach forward – the success of which also fall on the shoulders of the public.
Both the Cook Islands and New Zealand Police stressed the importance of the partnership approach.
“Successful prevention will come when it engages the support and cooperation of the whole community,” Tetava said.