Petition disappoints Tongan police chief

The former head of the Dunedin CIB is "disappointed" nearly half the Tongan police force he commands have signed a petition calling for his removal.

Tongan Police Commander Chris Kelley told the Otago Daily Times yesterday he was yet to see the petition calling for his removal, which was presented to the Prime Minister and his Cabinet last week.

"I am clearly disappointed."

Mr Kelley, who was appointed commander of the Tongan police in late 2008, was appointed commissioner last year following a major restructuring of the force of more than 400.

Tongan news reports say 200 of those officers have signed a petition opposing the Tonga Police Act and subsequent restructuring.

Mr Kelley said transparency and accountability were key components of the restructuring.

He was not concerned for his safety and rejected reports he favoured some officers over others.

"Change may be at the heart of these perceived grievances - change to merit based promotion, change to a new Police Act and change in the way in which we manage disciplinary proceedings," he said.

"I am confident that the changes we have put in place are responsible, appropriate and in line with modernisation of a police service."

He said the merit of the petition was "not for me to judge", but he hoped to answer each allegation in an effort to provide balance.

"I have every confidence in the Tonga Police and the public should be reassured that we will co-operate fully with any inquiry."

A former crime services manager with the Dunedin CIB, he was seconded to Tonga in September 2008, becoming the first European to head the force.

A committee established to look into the issues will release its recommendations next week.

hamish.mcneilly@odt.co.nz

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