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Qiliho: I’ve A Sick Force

Commissioner of Police Brigadier-General Sitiveni Qiliho is taking action against Police officers who failed to turn up for a Required Fitness Level Test. 678 Police officers – 506 from the
12 Dec 2018 10:08
Qiliho: I’ve A Sick Force
Commissioner of Police Brigadier-General Sitiveni Qiliho

Commissioner of Police Brigadier-General Sitiveni Qiliho is taking action against Police officers who failed to turn up for a Required Fitness Level Test.

678 Police officers – 506 from the regular force and 172 special constables – failed to turn up for the fitness test which had been set up after Brigadier-General Qiliho got a health test conducted and found that hundreds of officers were ‘walking time-bombs’.

These officers were ordered to appear before an internal tribunal. 58 officers have already been dealt with. More were dealt with yesterday.

Brigadier-General Qiliho confirmed that a number of the regular officers have been demoted, have had five-days of their pay deducted, while the special constables were issued warning letters.

“I did a health audit of the whole force and the health audit showed me I had a very sick force. A big percentage of my Police force were sick with non-communicable diseases (NCDs). There were about 200 in brick red, a few hundred in red and few others in amber.”

Brick Red is a code for heavily obese and living with NCDs, while Red coded officers were nearing heavily obese and unfit status.

18 Police officers died this year from NCD related causes, including the former Deputy Commissioner of Police, Isikeli Ligairi.

Brigadier-General Qiliho said a number of his officers are currently bedridden because of their ill-health.

Health audit finding:

“Those in the brick red category are the ones I termed as walking time-bombs. Those in red needed urgent treatment. I couldn’t demand operation output from my officers if I had a sick force. I decided that I had to: (1). Look after their health, (2). Get their physical fitness up to scratch.

“Only then will I be able to deliver what is required of me from the people of Fiji. At first, I was lenient, telling them the importance of fitness and looking after their health in providing the service from the people of Fiji require of us.

“I got the Ministry of Health involved in the health audit and they used to send to us their very senior medical practitioners to come and lecture us on the issues of health and well being.

“One of them is the current Minister for Health and Medical Services who used to come and deliver their lectures to us during my skype sessions with my Police divisions on Mondays and Fridays.”

Directive to get fit:

“I gave out directives to all of them to attend the required fitness level test which required them to run 2.4 kilometres in a certain time depending on their age, to do a certain number of press ups, do a certain numbers of chin ups and a certain number of sit ups depending on their age.

“Some of those exercises required from them, even the 2.4 kilometre run, at a certain age, you basically almost walk the entire distance. Unfortunately, some of my officers are failing that. They are failing to walk the 2.4 kilometres at slightly brisk pace. They can’t even do that; a fast-paced walk.

“I was lenient the first time around, the first few times I required them to do the test. I saw that this was plain disobedience to my lawful command. That was worrying that they were disobeying my command so I came down hard on them.

Disobedience and failure to turn up to fitness test:

“In the last fitness test, there were over 600 who failed to attend so I directed that they all be put through tribunals. This resulted in some of them reverted in ranks and most of the regular members dished out a five-day pay deduction.

“For the special constables, I can only give them the warning letter or dismiss them from the force. I have given them the final warning letter.

“Any other disciplinary issues that come up, they won’t remain as special constables of the Police force. It is important that they follow lawful commands that are given and also the importance of understanding that they need to be physically fit to continue policing. I will have to start removing people if they continue to fail to adhere to my lawful command that I give them. Leadership is such, we have to make such decisions that might not be liked by some of the people you lead, but in the end they will realise it was for their benefit.

“So, it is for the good order of the Fiji Police Force to be able to produce its outputs that we have had to take this stand. Otherwise, I will have a very sick force.

“Cases of sleeping while on duty, cases of officers not going on beat patrol (where they walk the streets), preferring to ride around in air-conditioned vehicles saying that those are mobile patrols when it is more of a cruise. To me, that is an indication that people are unfit to go out and do the extra yards that is demanded of them.

“Government pays Fiji Police Force extra duty allowance. It has increased our pay across the board in the last budget.  We are going through a restructure to address manpower issues and I have told the officers that we need to continue to work hard until such a time when manpower issues are addressed.”

Next five years:

Brigadier-General Qiliho said manpower issues are being addressed.

“That will be addressed over five years. By the end of five years, we should have an extra 3700 officers. That will negate the issue of overworked Police officers. In some cases we do have overworked units of Fiji Police Force because of manpower issues from over the years.

“We have had Police stations created – Nabua Police Station, Nakasi Police Station, that was created, but with no manpower. Governments back then said to source it from within.

“Police posts were the brainchild of Commissioner Isikia Savua back then and the standard operating procedures of those Police force required them to have 16 constables to man those Police posts, but there was no manpower approved by Government back then. It was directed that it be sourced from within.

“That is why there were Police posts with only one Police constable manning the post and in some cases if people fall sick, we have had no option, but to close the Police post even though we had re-diverted manpower there.

“This is an issue, we have real manpower issues and I am thankful to Government that they have addressed this in this financial year. We are allowed to recruit an extra 600 Police constables (2017-2018 financial year) to regularise Police stations and posts that were created without manpower.

“Next financial year, we will recruit 1200 more officers and we are thankful to Government for addressing that.”

Edited by Jonathan Bryce

Feedback: jyotip@fijisun.com.fj

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