Women police officers are represented in all units of the Samoa Police and this is a huge step from the past.
Some of these units and operations have been exclusively male for a long time. These units and operations include honour guard, close protection duties, traffic duties, maritime wing and tactical.
These have been made possible by the institutional changes being made in the Samoa Police, Deputy Commissioner Papalii Mona Lisa Tiai Keti reported in a presentation at the Women Peace and Security Summit held in Apia last week.
These changes are putting women in commanding roles and police operations which had excluded female officers. This Papalii said have significantly empowered women police officers.
Also empowering for women are promotions and selection now done on merit which has motivated women to reach their potential in the Police Force Papalii said.
Police traditionally Papalii pointed out has been seen as a male domain where physical size and strength were the key selection criteria during the recruitment process in the past.
Papalii said the focus of policing has also changed. In the past the focus was responding to crime issues and maintaining law and order. So policing was seen as a tough job certainly not a place for a woman Papalii said and consequently did not attract many women to become law enforcers. For the women who got recruited they were assigned to tasks that would not expose them to the harsh physical side of operational policing so the majority ended up in the administration. “Advancing in the Police was difficult for women and opportunities for women were rare.”
Policing now Papalii said is more towards prevention and community focussed rather than reactive as it was in the past.
Also there has been a change in the crime landscape which now includes cybercrime and white collar crime. “ The change in the landscape means changing in the police profiling and how we recruit people,” Papalii added.
Papalii happily reported that women in both the Pacific including Samoa have advanced considerably. The number of women in leadership positions are increasing and changes have been made in the roles and functions performed by women in policing. In Samoa for example women are represented at all levels.
Papalii referred to herself as the success story of the changes happening in Police. The highest rank ever achieved by a woman is the deputy commissioner.
The number of women in the Samoa Police has increased. Of the 672 police officers 169 (25%) are women. Of the 169 women 141 are sworn staff and 28 are non sworn staff.