Police must re-evaluate, commit to restoring honour, public faith in ‘the thin blue line’

Police must re-evaluate, commit to restoring honour, public faith in ‘the thin blue line’
"Police must re-evaluate, commit to restoring honour, public faith in ‘the thin blue line’"

In the last five days, 45 police personnel have been implicated for various crimes and wrongdoings – from rape to graft.

These are the men and women who have been given the responsibility to don the blue uniform and to wear the police badge on their chest. Yet, that responsibility seems to be hollow, devoid of meaning.

Here are several reported cases in recent times, involving the men in blue, that have been making headlines.

Jan 13, 2024: Johor police chief, Datuk Kamarul Zaman Mamat said a Sri Gading police station sergeant major, who was captured on video pulling another man's hair and slapping him repeatedly while berating him in public, was transferred to a different unit with immediate effect.

Jan 11, 2024: Two police officers – a constable and a lance corporal were detained in connection with an alleged rape and robbery case in Bukit Ampang, Ampang, Selangor, on Jan 9. According to reports, the rape victim was a 17-year-old foreign student, while the robbery victim was a friend of the female student.

Jan 11, 2024: Kamarul Zaman said some 33 policemen have been transferred following the urine tampering scandal in Johor. This comes on the heels of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC)’s ongoing investigation following the arrest of a pathologist and 33 narcotics policemen in the state since last year.

Jan 10, 2024: Federal Criminal Investigation Department director Datuk Seri Mohd Shuhaily Mohd Zain said a police officer in Shah Alam, Selangor was arrested for threatening two rank-and-file officers from a police station in Subang Jaya. The suspect had threatened the duo after he was investigated for drug possession under Section 12(3) of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952.

Jan 9, 2024: Kuala Lumpur police chief Datuk Allaudeen Abdul Majid said four police officers were arrested on Dec 23 for allegedly extorting RM10,000 from a man in Kepong, Kuala Lumpur.

Jan 9, 2024: Brickfields OCPD Assistant Commissioner Amihizam Abdul Shukor revealed that four police officers were nabbed between Jan 4-6 on suspicion of possessing ketum (kratom) juice during a raid on a house in Taman Yew Lai, Kuala Lumpur.

Dec 18, 2023: Deputy Superintendent Mohd Nazri Abdul Razak was charged in the Ipoh magistrate’s court with the murder of a 17-year-old student on Dec 15. It was earlier reported that Mohd Nazri had rammed into the victim, Muhammad Zaharif Affendi Muhd Zamrie, in Jalan Taman Jati 1 near SMK Jati, Meru, between 12.05pm and 12.40pm.

Dec 23, 2023: Three cops were detained on suspicion of stealing RM85,000 from a premises during a raid in Lebuh Pudu, in Kuala Lumpur. On Dec 21, over 1,000 members and officers of the General Operations Force were involved in an operation targeting foreigners in Jalan Silang.

Nov 3, 2023: Three policemen stationed at the Merbok police station near Sungai Petani, Kedah, were nabbed by the MACC for allegedly trafficking in drugs using a police patrol car.

Aug 19, 2023: 15 policemen and two deputy public prosecutors were arrested in a raid on an entertainment outlet in Seremban, Negeri Sembilan, by the Integrity and Standards Compliance Department from Bukit Aman. Fourteen of the 15 police officers, including a senior police officer, failed the urine tests given to them.

A plethora of words can be used to describe the cases above. Yet, none are as succinct as the Malay proverb, ‘Kerana nila setitik rosak susu sebelanga' (similar to the English saying 'one bad apple spoils the whole barrel').

Equally shocking is how the ‘facts of cases’, including personal details of victims, are leaked via WhatsApp messages. The latest, being the alleged rape case involving an Uzbek national, who according to Malaysian law, is a minor.

Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Razarudin Hussain, two days ago, said that only a handful of officers and policemen were involved in criminal activities. He went on to say that the public should not be alarmed and can trust the force to conduct transparent investigations into criminal cases involving its personnel.

According to the IGP, not even two per cent of the 137,000 personnel in the police force were involved in criminal activities. He attributed this to the constant monitoring and supervision by their superior officers.

Some may see this as the police trying to downplay the problem, dismissing it as a case of “a few rotten apples”. However, a simple calculation will show that two per cent of the force adds up to 2,740 personnel.

One cannot blame Razarudin for wanting to be seen as standing united with his men. But let’s not forget what his predecessor, Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Bador, had said in 2021 – that senior ranking officers within the police force were corrupt.

Last October, Mohd Shuhaily verbally eviscerated senior police officers in a closed-door meeting, in a video that went viral.

Shuhaily had called out officers who worked alongside syndicates – compromising the safety and lives of their brothers in blue, merely for financial gain. Shuhaily had also questioned how sergeants and other low-ranking officers could afford to buy luxury vehicles on their pay grade.

Feel-good TikTok videos showing what cops are expected to do will not win hearts. Actual public perception of the force, will.

Professionalism must be of the utmost priority – from bottom to top. Transparency is key. Communication should not be among the select few. Engagement between the police and the people must be done more frequently.

Do not let the reputation of a few good men and women be tarnished by the handful who do not understand their role and respect their position as law enforcement officers. Bad apples are everywhere, that is a given. Let’s chuck them out before they ruin the entire barrel.

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