The next person to head the island’s law enforcement agency, Niue Police, is an American. He is Mr Timothy Wilson from Washington, California. The official announcement was made on Thursday 7 November by the Niue Public Service Commission (NPSC) after weeks of speculation on social media and in the local rumour mill.
The outgoing Chief of Police Mr Tony Edwards will move across to head the Disaster Management Office operating from their new headquarters at Fonuakula.
Tony Edwards is only the second Niuean to be appointed to head the Niue Police since self-government. The late John Satini Tohovaka was the first. Edwards was appointed to the post in 2013 on the departure of expat Ross Ardern who was recruited from the New Zealand Police. In his time, Ardern used his contacts in New Zealand in an attempt to strengthen the local force with regular visits from appropriate personnel, a practice which was continued by his successor.
Edwards’ contract ended in July this year but a replacement was not found until November, an indication that the government’s hiring and firing agency NPSC was facing some challenges to find an acceptable outcome. Ending Edwards contract without offering another post on the island could have had a flow on effect on the Niue Primary school where Mrs Edwards is the principal – and by all accounts doing a good job.
In the statement from the Commission, it said that at the end of the interviewing process between two ‘highly exceptional candidates’ it was able to offer both two senior posts within the Niue Police…”a strategy that will not only secure both candidates but also strengthen the senior management and decision making level of the department’. The statement then goes on to thank Tony Edwards “for all the good work that he has done whilst in the Chief of Police role over the last 6 years”.
In addition to the appointments, the Commission also announced that a recruit from Fiji will work in the Crown Law Office to bolster the prosecution capabilities of the Niue Police. Expect more police officers to be recruited in the coming months the statement said.
With these changes in staffing and a new headquarter, the Commission hopes that these will “mark the transformation of the Niue Police into a modern and much improved organisation that will deliver quality services to the people of Niue”. Amen to that.
Meantime, the new recruit Sgt Timothy Wilson is from the Battle Ground Police Force in Washington, California. He and his family are expected to arrive at the beginning of the New Year. Mr Tim Wilson was a Mormon missionary working on Niue from 1994 to 1996 and learnt to speak Vagahau then, a skill he has maintained ever since. In an interview on radio in New Zealand, Wilson said that his ability to speak Vagahau was a gift from God that he didn’t want to lose – which may be just as well. While the crime rate on Niue is low to very low, there could well be a time when the new COP may need to call for some Divine back up.
10/11/2019 – Please note that we have been in touch with Tony’s wife Carol – he has not yet accepted the position with the Disaster Management Office. The press release from the Commission, which our article was based on, was unclear. Our apologies for any inconvenience our post have had on his family.