Policing the Police - 2 | Daily News


Policing the Police - 2

The scale and magnitude of the corruption now being unraveled within the Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB) is certain to send shockwaves among the ordinary public who are dependent on the country’s law enforcement to protect them from drug dealers and drugs related crime.

Among the suspectsnow being interrogated are a Sub Inspector (SI), two Police Sergeants and a Police Constable (PC) attached to the PNB. Interestingly, all four could possibly have been recipients of Presidential awards in the past, according to DIG Ajith Rohana.

Addressing a media conference on Wednesday, the DIG asserted that no leniency would be shown to the foursome and that the full force of the law will be brought to bear against them.

Our editorial yesterday was captioned ”Policing the Police” where we extensively dealt with the views expressed by Defence Secretary Major General (Retd) Kamal Gunaratne who gave examples of police indifference and inaction to public complaints against crime and criminals and of the corrupt activity of certain police officers that has tarnished the image of the service.

We are not aware if there is a unit specifically set up to detect corruption in the Police service similar to “Internal Affairs” divisions of Police in the USA and many other countries. If not there ought to be such a mechanism. Had this been the case, the bad eggs would have been unearthed and flushed out obviating the need for the Defence Secretary to enumerate on corruption within the police service and preventing the rotten state of affairs now unravelling. Had such a mechanism been in place the officers now being hauled over the coals would have in the best of behavior.

As a primary measure there should have been periodical assets declarations called for from all senior police officers and checks run on their bank accounts from time to time. Had this been done the monthly transactions worth between Rs. Rs.10 to Rs.40 million said to have been carried out with a Bank by one of the suspect PNB officers would have come to light, or, more precisely, the officer concerned would have had no occasion to conduct such a transaction. Ditto for the two vans and the jeeps acquired by the suspects and the 10 acres of land.

All this begs the question as to how the Bank concerned looked the other way when such a huge sum of money was deposited. Banks put any individual who comes to deposit a few lakhs of rupees to the grill making him/her answer all kinds of questions in a bid to ascertain how the money was obtained and the source of income.

The PNB officers who were taken into custody after all were made up of a Sub inspector (SI), two Police Sergeants and a Police Constable(PC), not the kind of ranks in the police service which command salaries that cumulatively can reach Rs. 40 million even for the duration of their collective lifetimes.

Why did this Bank accept such a large amount as a deposit without a second glance instead of first ascertaining their sources as it does with others, particularly since the police officers concerned were attached to the PNB that is involved in the detection of narcotics and apprehending drug lords and members connected to the narcotics trade. Is not this highly suspicious conduct ?

Similarly, how come the vehicles concerned that was taken into custody come to be registered if they are not second hand ones and also escaped the inland revenue and tax net? Why had the Land Registry, which keeps a record of all land transactions in the country, failed to detect the acquisition of 10 Acres of land by the suspects ?

The Narcotics business in this country could not have grown to such humongous proportions unless there was a vast network that was in operation that may also have included banks, the Inland Revenue, the Land Registry, among others, for the suspects concerned to act with such impunity as the PNB police officers had done.

Now that the sordid details have come to light, it is incumbent on the authorities to extend the dragnet far afield to find out the other collaborators involved in the entire operation and also the illegal earnings of all those within the system, since, as they say, it takes two to Tango. The nexus involving all actors has to be severed if the battle against the narcotics trade is to succeed.

At least now the most stringent of measures need to be taken, safeguards put in place and loopholes covered to prevent corruption in the police service of the scale that we are witnessing. As mentioned, all high ranking police officers should be made to declare their assets and their bank accounts opened for scrutiny, when requested. True, corruption that has taken root could not be weeded out overnight. But a start should be made in earnest at least now for policing the Police.

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