Conflicts and the Police Force

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Dear Editor

Re: P.M. issues Police ultimatum 

The situation at Samoa’s Police Force highlights the short-sightedness and impracticability of the policy of not allowing wives and husbands to work in the same government agency. 

From the outside looking in, there appears to be no operational requirements or impediments which would stand in the way of both husband and wife being employed as police officers. 

If there were operational reasons then Australian and NZ police forces would not be employing both husbands and wives as police officers. Please don’t run the line that this is Samoa and things are somehow different in paradise. 

If the policy is not there for operational reasons is it put there for policy reasons? I can’t think of a good policy requirement for such a policy and the results of a straw poll of the sellers and buyers at the makeki support this contention.

This is a policy, which probably worked last century when men were the main breadwinners in families but this is the 21st century and our society has progressed to the extent that we are now promoting the equality of opportunities between women and men. We have introduced policies at school to encourage girls to take up science and maths subjects leading to tertiary study of subjects which, in the past, have been the domain of boys. We want girls to do trades at the N.U.S. so that they can become plumbers and electricians and not just nurses. 

Our society have encouraged women to widen their aspirations and young women are told that they can be whatever they want to be including being police officers. And we have recently seen the excellent progress being made by young women in the police force.

If one of these highflying women happen to be married to another police officer, under the policy pushed by the P.M., one of them has to leave the police force. Whose career is more important in this instance? 

The decision has far wider and deeper implications for our society than the P.M. would care to admit. 

Let’s run the two likely scenarios based on the understanding of the Police culture where being macho is king.

One scenario is where the wife agrees to leave the police force and the husband stays. The question then, is what has been the point of government policies and whatever encouraging equal participation of women in the workforce? 

Money spent on the above programmes could have been better spent on supporting the Manu Samoa team. This is total disaster and goes against what the P.M. has personally endorsed, which has culminated in having special Parliamentary seats for women. 

That would be all for naught if this simple family decision is allowed to stand. This is the reason why affected police families are taking time to decide and the P.M. should not be too critical about this.

The second scenario is where the husband leaves the police force in deference to his wife. Samoa’s labour market is quite small and there is no guarantee of the husband finding similar type employment (in terms of prestige, pay or community standing) elsewhere. There could be resentment and other social issues with this family unit and I will stay away from that awful term, domestic violence. 

Improbable but not totally-out-of-the-question impact under this scenario.

The whole point of this letter is to plead with the P.M. to do away with this policy and introduce common sense in the employment of wives and husbands in the same agencies. 

For example, ensure that the spouse is not under the command of the higher ranked family member in the police force. 

Or in a public service department, don’t allow the two spouses to work in the same section or division. 

I can go into the economic benefits to Samoa of employing wives and husbands in the same agencies but this letter is already too long.

An old lady at the makeki whispered this story to me about a well-respected previous Police Commissioner who married (or had as his wife) a lady from within the police force. And I emphasise the word respected. Having the spouses in the same agency did work in the past and can be made to work now and into the future.

 

Vai Autu

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