|Senior Police Officers' Association|
The first move towards the establishment of a Police Mess was taken during the tenure of Mr.C.C Longdon, Inspector General of Police, during the period of 1905-1910, where, it was allowed to function at ‘Belle’s Rhue’, a building adjoining the Colpetty Railway Station. By 1910, with the intention of establishing the Mess as a recognized institution, the Inspector General requested the Government for a grant of Rs.5,000/00, to purchase furniture, pointing out that the Senior Police Officers’ Mess was instrumental in fostering ‘Espirit de Corps’ among Officers and also providing affordable yet comfortable lodging facilities. Thus, with the Governor agreeing to grant a loan of Rs. 5000/00, to be repaid in monthly installments of Rs. 100/00, the first Mess Committee was formed, comprising of Messrs. Dowbiggin, Godfrey & Bowes, who decided that the loan should be repaid in monthly installments of Rs. 50/00, and decided that each Resident Officer should contribute Rs. 10/00 per month. With the formation of the Mess Committee and the loan being received, the Mess became a recognized institution where an account on behalf of the Mess was opened at the National Bank, with the authorized signatories being appointed as the Inspector General, the SP - Colombo & the Mess Secretary, Mr. L.A.B d’Arenberg.
In April 1910, the Colonial Auditor Mr. D.S Macgregor, having heard that a guard was formed at the Mess inquired regarding the official standing of the Mess stating that that it is a private affair. The Inspector General responding, confirmed to the Auditor regarding the Official status of the Mess, and the importance of guard duties in such an establishment.
Since then the Mess was well furnished and equipped with entertainment amenities, and the novel billiard table contributed immensely, into making the Mess, a very popular establishment amongst the officers. Owing to this increased popularity it is recorded that the Governor, accompanied by Captain F.C Theobald, dined at the Mess in June 1911, along with Mr. Bryde, the Colombo Magistrate with the participation of then Inspector General, Mr. David, and the serving officers. It is recorded that the Officers held their annual guest night in 1912, with the participation of then Inspector General and all officers. This was the beginning of the high recognition of the Senior Police Officers’ Mess.
In 1928, at the time of Inspector General, Sir. H.L Dowbiggin, the Mess was shifted to its current location at Keppettipola Mawatha, which was an official government Residence, which was then handed over to the Police Department, and continued to grow and prosper under continuing Management Committees with the continued support of respective Inspector Generals, and steps were taken to expand and improve the Mess at the current location.
At the initial stages, the Mess functioned in this relatively small bungalow with 05 bed rooms on the upper floor where the current IG’S lounge functioning as the main hall, and the current oasis bar functioning as the dining hall, with the current Telephone operator’s room functioning as the bar. A stable was operative at the rear of the main building at the time. The most memorable character of the SPOM, was undoubtedly, ‘Jamis’, who has been serving as the chief butler at the SPOM for over 60 years, taking under his wings, many a officers who have risen to the top ranks of the Police Department today, who still vouch for the care, discipline and diligence in which operations of the SPOM were then carried out.
In 1988, since Jamis’s leaving, Mr. V. Ariyadasa was recruited as the caretaker of the SPOM, to the rank of Inspector, who retired in 2006.
The SPOM today, is the single representative body for the totality of SGOO of the Department. The Mess caters to the needs of 540 SGOO, in hosting official functions such as the Traditional breakfast, at the annual Sports Meet, Mess Night, Annual Christmas Party, Farewell Parties for Retiring Officers and also by providing affordable accommodation, food & dining facilities of the highest standards.
By holding of annual functions such as the Christmas Party for all member families, Informal ‘Paduru’ Parties, etc., the SPOM acts as the singular social interactive platform for all SGOO& families, providing recreation and interaction amongst members and families.
Another main role of the SPOM is the managing of the Special Death Donations fund & Retirement & Death Donation fund, thereby providing donations to members at retirement, and also providing donations to the families, at the death of a member, and under special circumstances, providing special death donations to the family of members deceased under special circumstances or acts of Terrorism.
The primary objective of the SPOM is to safeguard, promote and foster the professional interests, welfare and social needs of its members.
The SPOM also seeks to promote mutual interest and goodwill amongst its members, and to ensure loyalty and cooperation in the best interest of the Sri Lanka Police Service and to take all such steps as are deemed necessary to achieve these objectives, with the concurrence and approval of the Chairman of the SPOM.
Several notable physical improvements were carried out at the SPOM, which has been instrumental in upgrading and offering its members, the facilities and standards of the SPOM seen today
In 1990/1991, under the Presidencies of DIGG Messrs. M. Selvaratnam & M. Ariyasinghe, a new wing was added to the existing building which increased the accommodation capacity of resident members and also increasing the accommodation capacity of functions, by increasing the size of the main hall, which allowed Mess functions to beheld independently. This new wing was inaugurated in 1992.
In 1993, The Management committee under the Presidency of DIG Mr. M. Gunaratne added the ‘IG’s Lounge’ and the ‘Oasis Bar’, which still serves to be popular additions to the Mess.
In 1994, the Management Committee under the Presidency of DIG Mr. H.B Kotakadeniya added a new Billiards room to the Mess, thus providing more recreation opportunities for the members.
Under the Presidency of DIG Mr. A.A Samarasinghe in 1999, the landscaping of the Mess was improved with the addition of Pond and the water fall in the front lawn. A major move towards the improvement of the SPOM was taken at this time where steps were taken to recruit well trained professional staff to the SPOM, thereby which, the SPOM was facilitated to handle their own catering and service from then on, which was previously carried out by external caterers. At this time a major component of equipment cutlery and crockery were also obtained by the SPOM to further facilitate self sufficient functioning.
In 2003/2004, under the Presidency of Snr. DIG. T.I. de Silva, the billiards room was refurbished to the current international standard, which still is a favourite amongst the Members.
In 2004/2005, under the Presidency of Snr. DIG. Mr. B.M Liyanage, a major refurbishment of the IG’s Lounge and the Oasis Bar was inaugurated to conform to international standards to accommodate Foreign Counterparts and Delegates.
In 2007/2008, under the Presidency of Snr. DIG. J. Wickramaratne, all the common Toilet facilities were improved to international standards in keeping with the overall improved ambiance of the Mess.
In 2009/2010, under the Presidency of Snr.DIG. Mr. N.K Illangakoon, all upper floor Bed Rooms and Toilets were refurbished providing attached toilets to each room with hot water, thereby improving the accommodation standards of the Resident Members. Measures were also taken to provide TV’s for each room with cable TV facilities. During this time, the Main Hall was also refurbished including the IG’s Lounge that was much needed at the time. Steps were also taken to construct a four - storey building behind the Main Building to increase the accommodation capacity of the Resident Members.
The Mess also hosted Heads of State at a number of events and also undertook the hosting of events with the participation of the Head of State and many other Dignitaries, during this time.
In 2010/2011, under the Presidency of Snr. DIG. Mr. B.K.G Navaratne, the TV room was converted to a library with internet facilities.
One of the main future plans for the SPOM includes the construction of the four – storey accommodation building with separate suites for DIGG, which is currently at the procurement stage.
With this anticipated project, it is expected to double the current accommodation capacity of the resident members. Due to the rapid expansion of the number of SGOO during the past few years , the main hall was increasingly congested during the official functions which cried out for an expansion of the Main hall and also the improvement the kitchen to international standards, was a long due requirement. Accordingly, during the current presidency of Snr. DIG- Mr. B.K.G Navaratne, a proposal was made to increase the extent of the main hall incorporating the improvement of the kitchen, which is currently at detail design stage.
Under the stewardship of President - SPOM, Snr. DIG Mr. B.K.G. Navaratne and under the guidance of Chairman - SPOM, Inspector General of Police Mr. N.K. Illangakoon, several new projects are in the pipeline for the development & improvement of the SPOM for the benefit of the Members.