A concerted intelligence driven effort combined with community policing involving police from Oro and Port Moresby, has seen the apprehension of escapees, many violent criminals and several individuals, including public servants, allegedly involved in fraud and corruption.
The effort has been boosted with funding from the Office of the Governor, the Provincial Administration and Members of Parliament from both Sohe and Ijivitari.
This year, the provincial government has committed K4 million to improving police infrastructure and logistics. Efforts are also being made to establish a highway patrol at Saiho to keep watch on the Kokoda Highway. There is also a Tourist Police Patrol to provide security to the small but significant tourism sector.
Mr Juffa said that as a result of improved policing and support from leaders and the community, the township of Popondetta had experienced its safest and quietest festive period and decreased levels of crime.
“Though you are well below the capacity required of such a population and lack the resources needed, you did above and beyond expectations,” he told police at an informal gathering this week to farewell officers returning to Port Moresby for a break.
“This is a thankless job, where there is always criticism, but your efforts have made Oro safe for the women and children and I am most grateful and proud. This is your home too, if you ever want to work or retire here you are most welcome,” he said.
The gathering was also attended by the Member for Sohe, Delilah Gore, who thanked the police for their efforts and assured them of continued support from her office.
Meanwhile, on the same night, the Tactical Response Unit recaptured a hardcore criminal escapee who had been convicted for murder and rape. The Unit, set up by the Governor, was reacting to a tip off from a member of the public who sighted the escapee with a group of armed men in Oro township.
“The policing effort has not just been to address violent crimes but also to conduct investigations into allegations of corruption in the public service and corporate crime,” Mr Juffa said.
“Several public servants have been arrested and charged for various offences ranging from stealing to misappropriation and official corruption.”
The most recent arrest was of a Deputy Administrator and several public servants who have been accused of fraud.
A review into suspicious projects awarded through corrupt means have been hampered by the death of two key public servants, but investigations are continuing.
Efforts will step up this year with the establishment of the Provincial Accounts Committee to scrutinise the use of public funds in the province.