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CID investigation leads to the arrest of active duty cop

Deputy Commissioner Falana’ipupu Ta’ase Sagapolupele (left) and two other police officers escorting Police Officer Fa’auma Malo (right) from the DPS Central Station in Fagatogo, to an awaiting police unit, after he was arrested last Friday morning. Malo will make his initial appearance in the District Court today.  [photo: courtesy]
Le'i says no one is above the law, even police officers

A police officer was arrested at the DPS main central station in Fagatogo and taken into custody at the Tafuna Correctional Facility (TCF) Friday.

His initial appearance in the District Court is scheduled for today.

As of press time, it was unclear what Police Officer (PSO) Fa'auma Malo is being accused of.

DPS Deputy Commissioner, Falana’ipupu Ta’ase Sagapolutele declined to go into detail about why Malo was arrested.

“I cannot provide any information about this case," he said. "You can either talk to the Police Commissioner or wait until the officer appears before the court next Monday.”

Fa’auma Malo is a member of the 25th Police Academy, part of the crew that was sworn in as police officers earlier this year in June. Prior to that, Malo worked in the DPS Marine Patrol Division.

Police Commissioner Le’i Sonny Thompson confirmed to Samoa News during an interview last Friday, that an active duty uniformed officer was arrested and taken into custody to await his court appearance.

“After a long investigation by CID, an active duty officer was arrested today (last Friday), and he’s now in custody to await his initial before District Court Judge next Monday," Le'i said, adding that the Criminal Investigation Division carried out a  complete investigation into the matter — including interviewing witnesses and collecting evidence — and after everything was said and done, "we have sufficient evidence for the charge of a public servant acceding to corruption.”

Le’i never identified the detained officer by name.

The Commissioner wants to send a clear message to the public, saying that no one is above the law — even those who are sworn police officers, there’s nothing to protect them if they break the law.

According to Le'i, just because they are police officers, does not mean they are exempted in any way.

"This is not accepted in our office," the Police Commissioner said. "Let me make myself clear: no one is above the law. If you’re a leader, a citizen, a police officer, or whoever — we all have to obey the law," adding that everyone is under the microscope.

The Commissioner said all police officers were trained and educated to abide by the law, meaning everything a police officer does will be scrutinized if it isn't according to the law.

He said there are laws on the books, and they aren't his laws, but laws that have been there for many years, and it's the duty of police officers to enforce them.

“We are police officers, and we have to set an example for everyone to follow. It must begin with us. We are the public mirror, and we need the public to know and see that we’re following the law that we’re enforcing — not breaking it,” Le’i said.

He continued, “When things like this happen, people will ask if we are really doing our work, if we are really enforcing the laws. We must be clean and be good examples for everyone to follow. I have made myself clear — if you do things you shouldn't be doing, I’ll have you arrested, no questions asked.”

According to Le'i, there are many police officers, new and old timers, who are doing a great job within the department and for the people.

He offers them the same message: Comply with the law.

"The law is to protect the people as well as ourselves. So, I will not hesitate for one moment. I just want to make it clear, that it doesn’t matter to me who you are,” Le’i said.

Samoa News asked whether Friday's arrest had anything to do with the ongoing investigations being carried out by the Vice & Narcotics Tactical Unit pertaining to drugs on island, and whether the case has a companion case with a pending investigation.

Le'i said the arrested cop is an individual case investigated by CID, and pointed out that this is not something personal, targeting a specific officer or a group of police officers, or trying to get rid of any of them.

“All I can say is that a uniformed police officer has been arrested for not carrying out his duty. We’re not hiding anything. Everything is above par and the public has the right to know it — they truly deserve to know what's going on around the island — and even inside the police force," he said, adding that there are things he cannot comment on, because there are ongoing investigations.

He said he salutes all police officers and their families for their service in protecting local residents everyday.

“This is not an easy task. To all the police officers who are patient and work hard in protecting our people, I salute them all and their families. My heart really breaks because it is not an easy thing to do. Things we do make people mad, frustrated, angry and all — but I think in the long run it benefits those who deserve recognition, it goes a long way for everyone.

“Like I said, I feel bad about it. I really do; but I do what I have to do. It’s our duty as police officers,” Le’i concluded.