21 PRT officers certified today to handle firearms

Members of the PRT during one of their trainings. Photo by RAMSI Public Affairs

The next lot of police officers from the Police Response Team (PRT) have graduated today after completing intensive training in preparation for the rearmament exercise.

Twenty-one officers were certified during the graduation held at the RAMSI’s GBR base, Henderson.

One of the three Participating Police Force (PPF) Advisors Paul Meagher who oversee the training since it started in February this year says the training was ‘very intensive’

Mr Meagher says it started in October and November last year when invitation for applications were put out.

“Some 46 police officers applied, 36 were shortlisted, 26 pass examination test and following intensive trainings, we were left with 21 who are graduating today,” he says.

New graduate PRT officers, PRT officers and RSIPF Executive. Photos: Supplied

He says the training took into account all aspects that prepare the 21 officers well for the task ahead.

“It was difficult at first for them, but as the training intensified and rolled, they eventually surpassed physical competencies, because they were held under strict disciplinary rules from diet to mental aspects.”

The 21 officers are from various parts of the country.

Speaking during the ceremony, Assistant Police Commissioner Gabriel Manelusi says the certification of the 21 was a proud achievement for the force.

“You will be professionals the community needs during the absence of RAMSI.

“RAMSI is leaving soon, the onus therefore is on us.”

Mr Manelusi singled out the only female grandaunt who stood all the test of the physical training, saying she is a fine example of a force that encourages women participation.

New PRT graduate female officer recieved her certificate from Deputy Commissioner of Police Mr. Gabriel Manelusi

PPF Commander John Tanti encourages the officers to maintain high professional standards at all times because the community will look up to them after the departure of RAMSI.

“Your actions must meet expectations of the community. You will carry their trust. If you let them down, you let yourself and the RSIP down.

“On June 30th, RAMSI will end, therefore the community trust will be on you.

“People won’t forget what happened to them some 14 years ago, you will be trusted therefore you’re the ambassadors.

“You will be the first people will see when there is trouble.

“Having a gun and carrying it comes with a huge burden, therefore maintain professional standards at all times.

“Throw your personal egos away, you should be the most humbled.”

The PPF Commander adds that the unit is well supported and monitored therefore by taking up the responsibility means staying in a space that’s well supported and monitored.

A couple of groups from the PRT have already graduated from the trainings which prepares the unit for re-armament.

The Solomon Islands Government, through Cabinet, has deliberated on and approved the limited rearmament of the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF).

A small number of highly-trained officers from the PRT and Close Personal Protection (CPP) will shortly have access to police firearms while on duty.

Some of the new PRT graduate officers during the closing ceremony

This will enable the RSIPF to protect Solomon Islands’ communities, borders and waters when there is an operational requirement.

The decision to rearm the police was taken following extensive community consultations.

It also explained that only the specialist police units, including the Police Response Team (PRT) and Close Personal Protection (CPP) would have access to the firearms.

At the request of the Solomon Islands Government, the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) began assisting with the selection and training of the PRT and CPP officers in 2013.

Those that did not pass the high standards set by RAMSI and the Police Commissioner were moved to other areas of the RSIPF.

RAMSI has also ensured that the RSIPF has the right procedures and safeguards to ensure that the weapons are issued, carried, returned and stored properly.

RAMSI also handed over a state-of-the-art armoury in May last year.

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