Criminals better equipped: Commander

The criminals of Milne Bay are better equipped than law enforcers.

Provincial police commander, Peter Barkie, said this is the sad reality on ground.

Once synonymous with tourism, the beautiful island province of Milne Bay has been rocked with shootouts, arson, petty crimes and piracy; a nightmare for the majority of the laidback local populace.

With the new provincial police commander, Barkie, taking over the reins, his vision to restore the public’s trust in the force is hampered with a lack of logistics.

“Apart from leadership, my biggest challenge in terms of policing here is the equipment that I need to do my work,” said the PPC, who has over two decades of military experience.

“Currently I have two operational vehicles in Alotau. Just two. One allocated to the traffic unit, one to the CID. And the CID vehicle has just broken down. So I have only one to police everything. The PPC doesn’t have a vehicle, the PPC doesn’t have a house; my station commander doesn’t have a vehicle, he doesn’t have a house.”

The police commander said they have no choice but to rely on their experience and knowledge to make better use of the limited resources available, depending on the less than 80 personnel to police the provincial capital of Milne Bay, including the islands.

“And we are just using the men and women under our command to do what they can do without those things. And I must also say that the bad guys here are actually better equipped than my men, in terms of weapons and firepower,” stated the PPC. “I’m sending requests and I’m just waiting here.”

Their beche-de-mer operation, called “Milne Bay 2020 Tango” is in full swing, backed by the Special Services Division from Port Moresby.

“I also have a boat with a team from our water police in Port Moresby. We also have armed men on that vessel. And so far, I’m happy with their response because that’s the fastest boat in Milne Bay at the moment,” stated Barkie.

“Milne Bay is the largest maritime province in the country. So when we talk mobility, we’re not only talking about land, but we’re also talking about water. And at the moment, I do not have that level of mobility.

“I have only two dinghies which can only go from point A to point B but if something happens out at this place in Misima or Rossel Island, I can’t get there on the dinghy. I need something bigger than that.”

(The passage at Kanakope where pirates ambush dinghies)

Carmella Gware