For a new look police service | Daily News

For a new look police service

Newly appointed Law and Order Minister Ranjith Maddumabandara wants to overhaul the police service and bring it more closer to the public. Calling on the Viharadhipathy of the of the Kataragama Kiri Vehera Raja Maha Viharaya, over the weekend, the minister said the police service will be completely re-organised in order to make it a public-friendly entity.

His predecessor too made a similar pledge upon taking over duties, but the police service has hardly made notable strides that has enhanced its reputation among the public. On the contrary, it continues to draw flak from all quarters due mainly to the actions of certain officers. The revelations made in the Lasantha and Thajudeen murders show the extent of complicity on the part of certain high ranking police officers which has brought a bad name on the police.

The recent incidents in Kandy also saw the public profile of the police hit the nadir. Its men were blamed for inaction and gross dereliction of duty in allowing the violence to escalate, resulting in massive damage to property. Certain incidents of police excesses like the one witnessed in Embilipitya some time ago also damaged the reputation of the police. Hence, the police service is badly in need of a shakeup and hopefully this time around the minister will ensure that a tangible change takes place that will restore the image of the country’s chief law enforcement establishment.

The Minister should start from brass tacks. The crime rate has certainly increased in recent times. Not a day passes without some murder being committed involving the underworld. Gangland wars involving tit for tat killings are on the upsurge endangering the lives of the ordinary people. This situation has to be reined in. No doubt the IGP had recently ordered countrywide operations to round up criminals, which is commendable. But, given the escalating crime rate, one wonders how successful this endeavour is.

Of course, the picture is not entirely bleak. There have been spectacular detections and successful crime busting operations on the part of the police that was given wide publicity in the media. There were also instances where police officers paid the supreme sacrifice in the line of duty, like the constable who functioned as a security officer to a High Court judge in Jaffna was killed when the assailants targeted the latter. Hence the risks run by the men in khaki, while affording protection to the public, too should be acknowledged and appreciated. It is also an accepted fact that the police officers are among the poorly paid public servants in the country and steps should be taken to rectify this situation, especially given the risks involved in the service. Attention should also be paid to the families of the police personnel, especially where the schooling of their children are concerned. It is known that during the war years children of the military personnel were given special preference where school admission of their children were concerned.It is not known if this was extended to the police too. If not, the minister should take steps to make some arrangements where the children of the police personnel are concerned, considering the nature of their duties and the risks involved.

It is nine years since the war was brought to a conclusion and the onus is on the minister to make the police service a strictly civilian law enforcement entity. Like in the case of the tri-forces, recruitment to the police during the period of the war was carried out dispensing with exacting standards due to the urgent need for augmenting manpower. In the process certain undesirable too gain entry to both, the services and the police. Perhaps, the excesses reported relating to certain members of the police, as with the forces, in most instances could be attributed to this factor. It is also an accepted fact that the war, while it brutalized society as whole, took a heavy toll on the forces and the police who were directly exposed to the fighting. Traces of this could be seen in certain actions of the police. Some of the bad eggs may still be in the service. Hence, the minister should take measures to weed out the criminal elements, which would help in a big way to take the police service go back to the pre-war years, where it was a public-friendly law enforcement entity. Efforts should also be made to make the members of the police service interact more with the general public. This could be achieved through sports events, sharmadanas etc. carried out jointly by the local police and members of the public.

It is time that the police was re-branded and given a new facelift, both in outlook and performance, harking back to the good old days when the khaki uniform was regarded with awe and respect. Regrettably though, this respect for the police uniform had waned during the past years due to the actions of the bad eggs, mentioned already. It will be the minister’s task to restore the somewhat sullied image of the police service and make it a public-friendly entity, as is his stated objective.


 

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