Auapa’au: “in times of unparalleled changes, the Police’s focus is to keep order”


The backbone of the Government’s enforcement of the State of Emergency Orders consisted of more than 800 Police Officers, Prison Guards and unsworn members in Upolu and Savaii. 

During the nationwide lockdown, the Ministry of Police and Prisons were in charge of enforcing the SOE orders around the clock.

On Tuesday after four weeks, the staff were released from camp to return to their families.

“In times of unparalleled changes, the Police’s main focus is to keep order, take immediate and decisive action and find solutions to problems brought on by the pandemic on the daily basis,” said Acting Police Commissioner Auapa’au Logoitino Filipo in an interview with Radio Polynesia.

To date, more than 400 Officers, unsworn members and prison guards were infected with the virus and were in isolation upon recovery they reported back to duty, immediately.

“The essence of our Oath of Office was a defining moment for the Ministry as we recognised the pandemic as a priority national risk. “This reflected during the 12 hours shifts over the four weeks, as members of the force, were tasked to Police the checkpoints, hospitals, tackle crimes, on top of responding to calls for assistance around the Country.

According to Auapa’au, their work was sometimes carried out under extreme circumstances when their decision-making was viewed by the public as heavy-handed or inconsistent.

“However the Police service has reflected and learned from these instances,” he said.

The Ministry of Police during the first lockdown in January and was reinforced in March, was the activation of its zoning policy as part of its National COVID-19 response efforts, which drew a lot of criticism.

“However these efforts (which are widely used) are to seal off areas where the virus can be placed under control, to minimise congestion to slow down the spread of the virus.

“Especially in Samoa where people will make up all sorts of excuses to cross over to another zone,” he said.

Auapa’au noted the Police officers had to adapt to several changes some of which was done overnight, linked to the pandemic was challenging but doable.

“Many burglaries occurred targeting family homes and businesses, hence the suggestion not to sell alcohol during the lockdown, as this will strain Police resources, especially when some Police Officers had Covid and were in isolation.

“On top of that drunk drivers on the road, and people galavanting on the road during curfew time.”

Auapa’au said while the work was demanding but they lived up to the challenge and carried out their work under extreme circumstances.

The Acting Police Commissioner concluded by commending every one of their staff from the maintenance crew, administrators, Prison Guards, and Police Officers to the management in Upolu, Savaii for their “selfless service” in the line of duty and as frontliners.