Editorial comment – Laws for everyone

Four people have been arrested by Police in drug related cases. Picture: FILE

THE assault of police officers by members of the public is a concern.

Police chief intelligence and investigation Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Vakacegu Toduadua said the offence is serious and those committing such acts will be dealt with accordingly.

His comments came in the wake of an incident last Sunday when two suspects were arrested in Tailevu for allegedly assaulting an officer at the Korovou Police Station.

Mr Toduadua claimed the suspects tore the police officer’s uniform and reflector vest while the officer was trying to wake a man lying in the middle of the road.

He said both accused were drunk and were now in police custody.

In a separate incident, stones were thrown at a police officer from Vunidawa Police Station in December last year while he was attending to a disturbance report.

Mr Toduadua said the officer was injured and treated at the Vunidawa Hospital.

Police officers from Vunidawa arrested three suspects.

“Don’t underestimate your police officers. If you commit such a crime we will hunt you down and bring you to justice,” he said.

In January 2012, a similar warning was issued to members of the public not to assault police officers. It came in the wake of six reported cases in the previous three months.

There were four cases in November 2011, two in the Western Division and one each in the Eastern and Northern divisions.

The fifth case was reported in December that year in the Southern Division. Assaults of police officers is a major concern for the force and should be a worry for responsible citizens.

We have to wonder though why our officers are being assaulted.

This is a factor stakeholders must seriously look at.

We need to identify the causes and immediately take corrective action to ensure steps are in place to put a stop to it.

While it is illegal to assault a police officer, the onus is on the force to ensure its men and women are trained to deal with such situations.

Scenarios may differ, but they should serve as platforms to identify probable causes.

The last thing we want is fading respect for an institution that has proudly held its head high in the face of many difficult situations over the years.

The force must hold its head high.

The people of this country will expect it to do so.

A confident force gives off a sense of security.

Retired officers still proudly reminisce about years when officers in uniform were important members of society.

They would never be seen doing things we take for granted now, such as carrying shopping bags while in uniform, walking the streets with shoes that were not polished, and with berets tucked into the rear belt flap of trousers.

They remember a time when officers were approachable, gentle, polite but very confident.

There was something special about the uniform and the men and women of the force donned them with pride.

The law must come down heavily on people who assault police officers. Sceptics may say times have changed, and maybe the onus is also on the force to do some soul searching.

But lest we forget, we all have a role to play in the mechanics of how life evolves in our country.

Let’s play our little part and allow our policemen and women to maintain law and order.

Laws were meant for everyone.

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