Editorial comment | A change in mind-set

Senior officers of the Fiji Police Force with Editor-in-Chief of the Fiji Times, Fred Wesley during the first day of workshop. Picture: FIJI POLICE FORCE

The past three days have been great for relationships between the media and the Fiji Police Force.

At the conclusion of a three-day workshop in Suva this week, work, we learn, is now starting, to decentralise police responses to the media.

It’s all in an effort to boost accountability and transparency. It ushers in a new era of co-operation between the police and the media, and comes as a breath of fresh air.

While there is acceptance that this isn’t going to be a walk in the park so to speak, the opening of communication lines between journalists, divisional heads, and directors of various divisions in the force, according to Assistant Commissioner of Police Administration (ACP/A) Meli Sateki, was important, and they were ready to put in the work.

This week’s joint Fijian Media Association (FMA) and Fiji Police media awareness workshop, he said, was the platform to discuss various challenges and opportunities for both entities. He said this was all about capability development for police officers.

“This is happening because there is a new approach to preposition the organisation in terms of our response to the media. We felt that it was about time that we decentralise our media responses so we can be more responsible and accountable. We are thankful for the media and the media association,” he said.

The workshop was facilitated by the Fiji Police Media Cell, FMA, and Pacific Media Assistance Scheme (PACMAS). In keeping with the aim to facilitate better understanding of the work of both arms, awareness is important.

That’s why senior officers of the force were invited as part of the workshop to visit newsrooms in the Capital City of Suva, to learn about, and appreciate the work of the media.

In turn, editors were given an overview of the mechanics of police work by senior officers.

We have always said that the people of Fiji should be encouraged to work closely with the police to fight crime.

That will mean understanding the work of the police, their challenges, hopes and aspirations, and factoring that into how we respond to criminal activities around us.

It means making an effort to uphold the laws of our country, and joining the force in fighting the important battles, together.

We have always said that the police need Fijians on their side in the war against crime.

They need the assistance of members of the public, and they need us all to engage. And it can be in anything, from reporting a crime, to adhering to laws that govern road usage for instance.

It may mean driving within the speed limit, putting your mobile phone away while you are driving, using common sense and reducing speed in crowded places, not driving under the influence of alcohol and generally being very careful when out on our roads.

What is important here and deserves attention is the fact that senior officers want change.

They want to engage with the public through the media.

They want to talk about their work, and why crime prevention is important.

They want to tell people about why it is important that we engage, and unite for the betterment of our nation. Now that is encouraging.

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