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Letter: Police need better leadership

Wednesday 22 May 2024 | Written by Supplied | Published in Letters to the Editor, Opinion

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Letter: Police need better leadership

Dear Editor, I am writing to bring attention to the issues plaguing the Cook Islands Police Service as highlighted recently about critical understaffing.

What many aren’t aware of is that these problems are rooted in significant management failures at multiple levels.
Central to this a Commissioner of Police who lacks management and leadership. He and his executive team have lost the respect of most staff who cannot and will not speak out for fear of insubordination yet, they continue to loyally serve our community in silence. This toxic environment in the Police runs rife when you have a commissioner and certain members of the Police executive taking care of themselves, of each other and a select few amongst the ranks who frequently enjoy their drinking sessions together. Yes, and it is these same staff who have benefited from bias treatment and abuse of authority and opportunity. 

Time and time these issues are raised at senior management levels and yet, time and time again, it gets shut down or swept under the carpet. I don’t know what’s more disheartening? The blatant disregard for neutrality and integrity or knowing how serious the issues are and yet do nothing but bury their heads in the sand in the hope it’ll all go away.
Budget cuts result from poor financial management and underspends returned to government coffers. These were opportunities lost over the years to improve employment conditions for staff on the frontline and in the field.

Once upon a time, the Ministry of Justice was in a similar situation and the government prioritised the law enforcement sector some years ago. Justice came out on top as winners, as did the Corrective Services.

What happened to the Police Service? Well, it’s no wonder if you have a commissioner who isn’t at work half the time and couldn’t care less unless you were on the ‘inside’ circle. Makes one wonder what ever happened to the investigations handled by the Ombudsman’s office? Has nothing come of this as well?
Addressing these management issues is crucial to not just help those genuine and dedicated men and women in blue but also, to restore public confidence in the Cook Islands Police. I don’t know how the staff does it? How they continue to try their best with what’s going on around and above them. Te akaroa.
There needs to be an urgent, independent investigation into the management issues within the Cook Islands Police that needs to be resolved now, before more staff leave.

Yes, staff are looking elsewhere for jobs where they will feel valued and accepted. Most times, it isn’t always about the pay. If this commissioner thinks he’s the one to do it then he’s got another thing coming. He’s had how many years at the top with no strategic plan, unresolved complaints about him and his conduct and a ministry in crisis. It’s time for a change of leadership, hopefully with someone better.
So, with all these critical issues happening in the Police, where might we find the commissioner? Well, he’s off overseas again with his small circle of loyal subjects. Seems he has “his” priorities in order.

Enough is enough

(Name and address supplied)

Editor’s note – A right of reply email was sent to Police Commissioner Turepu James Keenan and Police spokesperson Trevor Pitt yesterday.