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Interesting to the end

Shayal Devi
Saturday, November 25, 2017

SINCE taking up the mantle of divisional police commander for the West in May, 2015, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Marika Yalimaiwai says he has never had an "uninteresting" day.

The Lau man, who has spent more than two decades in the police force, relinquished his role as DPC West this week to take up a new position at the Fiji Police Force Academy.

During his tenure as DPC, SSP Yalimaiwai became a notable figure as he oversaw day-to-day operations for the division, which he says was quite challenging.

"I took over the post on May 1, 2015, and I was just fresh out of a regional mission in the Solomon Islands as a commander of the Pacific Island police contingent," he says.

"I came here, (the then police commissioner) Ben Groenewald didn't know who I was and he gave me a two-week leave in order to study my files."

He says the Western Division is an enormous area to look after, from which 78 or so per cent of the GDP is attained.

"There are a lot of activities that happen every day. You have tourism, development, gold mining, FIJI Water exports etcetera.

"From Matawalu Village to Korovou (in Tailevu) is a tax-free zone and it is developing, you see the amount of earthworks and reclamation of land and when people develop, populations move, demography changes and it goes with crime.

"So those are the things that make it interesting as a divisional police commander and I leave this in very capable hands and I am going with a lot of experience that can help achieve our vision and mission."

He says he is fortunate to have served in missions overseas because they have given him a different perspective on policing.

His first mission was to Kosovo in 2000.

"We were doing police jobs there so I became an immigration officer and that was an interesting mission because the other missions that police are being sent to are just as observers or mentoring.

"In Kosovo, I rubbed shoulders with experts from Russia, Germany and all the European countries and this expanded the way I look at policing.

"The second mission I went to was Sudan. We slept in houses where walls were made of cow dung and grass and when you woke up in the morning, your nostrils were filled with dust and we relied on river water.

"It was tough but we managed to get through but my family and the Fiji flag kept me going.

"The third was to the Solomon Islands and I was the contingent commander. We did community policing too because domestic violence was a big problem in the Solomon Islands."

His role as DPC West has also allowed him to grow as a policeman. His early life growing up on Namuka-i-Lau has also had a heavy influence on the person he is today.

SSP Yalimaiwai says he can still recall the struggles his parents went through to ensure their children received a proper education.

He will now take over as training director at the police academy.

"This will be my third posting to the police academy. The first was for 13 years, the second one was nine months and I believe this will take me right to my retirement.

"My main dream now is to close the gap in operation through training. The community should see improvements and professionalism in police officers because it's about service and we want people to be safe in their homes."

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