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What does it take to be a police chief?

Police Commissioner David Manning - what's more important, a degree or a track record as an effective police officer?

| The Kramer Report | Edited

PORT MORESBY – I wrote a week or so ago that I would make a submission to National Executive Council (NEC) to amend the Public Service regulation to no longer require the Commissioner of Police to hold a tertiary degree.

This announcement prompted a number of readers to suggest this would be an act nepotism, corruption and self-interest.

While I found these claims rather amusing, they are also disturbing as it shows some people are either genuinely ignorant of the issues, or just plain stupid.

What is the regulation that stipulates a person must obtain a tertiary degree to qualify for the appointment of departmental head?

In 2003, the NEC approved a specification for the selection and appointment of departmental heads and provincial administrators.

This regulation provided that any person applying for these positions of must meet more than 18 minimum requirements. These include the minimum tertiary education, age (over 35), management experience and skills, and health and fitness.

So there is no confusion, this was a regulation. While laws are subject to approval by parliament, regulations are approved by NEC.

When NEC introduced the regulation specifying minimum requirements for departmental heads and provincial administrators, did it intend it to apply to the police commissioner?

The short answer, in my respectful view, is no.

If it was intended the police commissioner be subject to the regulation, then the NEC would have needed to apply it to every commissioner appointed since 2003.

Since the introduction of the regulation, none of the six police commissioners have possessed a tertiary qualification.

In fact, since 1945 more than 23 people have served as police commissioner and only one of them possessed a tertiary education – Peter Aigilo in 1997-99.

It is the role of members of parliament to pass legislation, the NEC to pass regulations and the courts to interpret and uphold law consistent with its intended meaning and purpose and with the constitution.

When interpreting laws passed by parliament, it is important that the judiciary understand and consider the intent of the legislature when they introduced and passed the law.

In this case, did NEC intend the regulation relating to tertiary degrees to be applied to the appointment of police commissioner?

My respectful view is again no.

I don’t believe this evidence or argument was raised before the national court to assist it in arriving at its decision that commissioner Manning should stand down.

Perhaps it was that the people drafting the regulation failed to make this clear.

The decision of the national court is not final, and the police commissioner may exercise his right to appeal the decision to the supreme court for a three-man bench to review the decision.

NEC may also choose to exercise its constitutional powers to correct any confusion in the application of the regulation so that it is made to be consistent with its intended purpose.


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William Dunlop

I know that in 1975 the roles of Police Commissioner and Secretary of the Police Department were separate functions.

My new bride, Melinda, secured the position as Executive Legal Secretary to these positions in December 1975.

The commissioner's job was then occupied by Pius Kerepia and Laurie Denman was secretary of the Police Department.

Philip Fitzpatrick

That seems the logical way to go.

Let David Manning appeal the decision of the National Court in the Supreme Court and if it finds in his favour the NEC can then amend the regulation by specifically excluding the police commissioner.

It might be worth wording any amendment so it expresses a preference for a tertiary qualification but not a necessary requirement. Having educated cops can't be a bad thing after all.

There may also be other officers in a similar position, i.e., head of Corrections etc.

Garrett Roche

Just a minor point, - there is a reference to a 'Peter Aigolo', I presume it is 'Peter Aigilo' that is being referred to.

Thanks Garry. Fixed - KJ

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