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Cook Islands Police Commissioner Maara Tetava’s term has been extended until February next year, confirmed Police Minister Vaine “Mac” Mokoroa.
Mokoroa says the tenure of current Commissioner was due to come to an end on November 1, but due to the festive season that has now been extended.
Advertising for the position is now expected to start in January, says Mokoroa.
Tetava had earlier disputed the tenure of his contract, saying it would end on December 1.
“He has been Deputy Commissioner for 12 years and Commissioner for nine years so, like every other normal contract, it needs to go back to the market,” the minister says.
“It is time for us to see how we can bring new spirit and new life to boost the morale of police staff.”
Mokoroa says there has been interest in the position from Cook Islands New Zealand police officers, as well as “interest from former officers here”.
“Names are coming in, but there is a process,” he says.
A policeman for 20 years, Mokoroa is determined to make the Cook Island Police Service smarter and better trained than it has ever been before.
And he has a number of ideas on how to upskill his officers so they can fight the new modes of criminal activity brought about by new technologies.
First and foremost, Mokoroa says, is the police service needs to make better use of the strong relationship it has with New Zealand’s police force.
“For a long time now we haven’t been capitalising on the New Zealand police college in Porirua and, at the same time, not capitalising on our current, outgoing New Zealand High Commissioner (Peter Marshall) who is a former police commissioner.
“We should have capitalised on that to get our boys to do promotional courses.”
For example, he says: “If you want to get promoted to sergeant then you need to go and do a sergeant’s course in New Zealand.”
Mokoroa also wants to local officers to be trained in New Zealand so they can do specialist tasks such as forensic fingerprinting, forensic accounting and forensic computer work.
“We need to get that training with our counterparts in New Zealand. We haven’t been capitalising on that. We need to work on that type of training to upskill our staff.”
“Over and above that, you also need to look at the academic and tertiary studies that are available.”
The minister says he wants more officers to study at university and is willing to try to work out a package with the University of the South Pacific and “push more of our staff through that institution”.
“We have to make police smarter.”Mokoroa believes that: “In a world of changing times, new technology and new modes of criminal activities coming to our country we need to upskill our staff.
“As it is now, we have not been doing that for past 10 to 15 years.
“I don’t know how many of our staff are now receiving USP qualifications but we had the USP graduation this year and I didn’t see any police officers lining up in the rows.
“That’s the kind of thing we need to introduce for our police officers.”
And upskilling them is one of the ways Mokoroa wants to boost morale among police officers.
He acknowledged the pay was not high but added: “Well, there are some who have been holding the fort despite the pay. So, if the pay is low you have to come up with incentives to make sure the morale of staff is there.
“So despite the pay, discipline comes into play, the type of work and activity within the service such as team moulding. As head of ministry that means putting things on to the workforce so you get the interest and commitment of the staff.
“Money could be a contributing factor, but there are other ways for us to keep staff happy.
“One of the things I really want to look at is to address the issue of the police association. I was a former president of the association and we went out to lobby for pay rises with politicians and did get our fair share of the allocation.
“We held a Christmas party for police paid out of the police association account. Every year we joined the touch tournaments and there were other things we tried to introduce for the association.
“We went to the banks and got them to give us the best discount rates for lower interest for police. If the housing loan was at nine per cent we got a one per cent discount for those police holding housing loans.”
Mokoroa says the association also helped officers who were caught up in complaints laid by the public.
SOURCE: COOK ISLANDS NEWS/PACNEWS
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