Nine uniformed police officers are setting themselves up inside The Governor of Svalbard's office. Last year the government allocated funds for three new police positions in Longyearbyen. Last month they were in place at Skjæringa.
"These positions are coming for the good of the whole community in terms of safety, emergencies and police availability," Starheimsæter said.
Two new Irenes
In addition to the three new positions, Per Andreassen and Thomas Ulvestad joined in the fall. That's why there are four new faces in the police staff, since Ulvestad's first successor was appointed during the winter.
Two of the four are named Irene. Irene Welle comes from the police department in Oslo and has worked with public communications. She will do that in Longyearbyen as well, plus she will be the safety supervisor. Namesake Irene Sætersmoen comes from the Romerike police district and has worked with sexual abuse cases. In Longyearbyen, she will have primary responsibility for criminal cases.
Vidar Arnesen comes from the Agder police district, where he was the dog handler and worked with drug cases.
"My position up here is not as the dog handler, but I have an approved drug and avalanche dog," he said. "If it will be used is up to the governor to decide. It is nine years old, and getting a bit old and stiff."
Arnesen is a trained instructor for police dogs.
"Here I'll be responsible for supplies, mainly in the police department, but also for the vehicle fleet," he said. "I will also have safety training for employees."
He was a field inspector in 2011.
"I had an inclination towards Svalbard and had worked with Arild Lyssand previously," Arnesen said. "I know several who have been here who have boasted about the governor and Svalbard, and after the summer as a field inspector it wasn't less tempting to apply."
Arve Johnsen comes from the police department in Bergen where he was a dog handler, but his dog is not here.
"I will be responsible for field inspectors, weapons, visas and cabins," Johnsen said.
When all staff are present, they consist of ten police officers. Nine police chief inspectors who work duty shifts and Starheimsæter.
The three new positions allows the police department to better fulfill its duties.
"Not least are the core tasks prevention, investigation and emergency response," Starheimsæter said. "The police department also has a number of tasks that are not exactly typical for police - for example, coordination of the helicopters, Polarsyssel, expeditions and inspections. The department's overall portfolio has been reviewed and the new employees will help within the entire task spectrum."
What requirements apply to those employed by the department?
"We are looking for staff who have extensive experience with the police," Starheimsæter said. "The typical police officer with the governor's office is generalized, with expertise in the police's core tasks. Beyond that, we are looking for expertise, depending on what position we will fill. Sometimes it can be field service and other operational expertise, other times it can be investigational expertise. In particular, we are looking for team players; those who have the ability and willingness to help the police department – and thus the governor's overall effectiveness – are the best possible match."
In what ways will people notice the increase in officers?
"Eventually, it will probably be noticed that we are more present throughout the town, in particular that we are increasingly allocating time to patrol and for more traffic controls," Starheisæter said. "We will also increase supervision in the field. We are aiming for, among other things, more of a presence during the snowmobile season."
He said that it will take some time to absorb the relatively large staff increases and translate that into greater efficiency.
"Much is new for the most recently added employees; there are many routines to familiarize themselves with and a lot to acquaint themselves with," the supervising officer said. "But even now we are better equipped to meet current and future challenges.
My responsibility is to manage the additional personnel resources wisely, and not lose sight that the police first and foremost are for the population's safety and security."
Shorter duty period
Two police chief inspectors are on duty at all times.
"Previously, the two had emergency duty for one week continuously, but as of Oct. 1 we have adopted a change in emergency duty to twice a week, allowing the continuous duty period to be roughly halved." Starheimsæter. said. "The fact that we now have more for emergency service allows the duty watch burden on individuals to be reduced."
Translated by Mark Sabbatini