Should an honest police officer salute a corrupt PS member?

27 October 2015 06:30 pm - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Priorities for new Commission

Of ‘policing’ since 1780 influenced by its development by the London Metropolitan Police—with only a year remaining for the 150th anniversary of the Force constituted in 1866:now complete with a Police Commission in 2015.

We all know the plight of policemen who use their authority to discipline or control actions of politicians and their stooges. The media never hesitates to highlight the lack of discipline, abuse of power, faults, cruel treatment of suspects, violations of human rights, unlawful arrests and other misdemeanours by the Police. In assisting at controlling demonstrations to keep the peace, local and national events, traffic control, sports fixtures, ceremonies etc.,the cops perform a hectic but a thankless task.

Political interference was seen during the last election campaign when a junior officer arrested a Deputy Minister, a lawyer, for alleged violation of election law. This particular police officer deserves the salute for acting with unbelievable restraint.  The minister made a counter charge against the officer, which later proved false. Policing is an exceptional and demanding career. It is however extremely – physically and psychologically – a hectic vocation. If we need to take our country forward, politicians are required to be aware of this fact and refrain from interfering with the service.      

The  Police Commission should carry out its work towards raising the standards of the police service to make it a professional force; it should provide the police personnel with good advice and counsel, help them to perform their duties within the law in a consistent manner using the powers and duties conferred on them by statutes and specific orders without cowing down to political interference. The Commission should also propose enhanced remuneration for all ranks.

“…half the people in the area ended up in the police to make statements.  Torturing some while in custody and unlawful detention, raised serious issues on the behaviour of the police and their manner of investigations. Finally, the police officers themselves are under probe….The way the police held the investigations had come under harsh condemnation… the case was transferred to the CID, days after the murder.”

Reading a statement made by a leading President’s Counsel cum Politician as it appeared in a morning newspaper made my woes even worse.  Being ‘caught red-handed’ and summoned by Cinnamon Garden’s Police for a lecture on traffic offences and good practices in road use held  on a Sunday morning, I was left with two options; either talk to a known top cop and excuse myself or attend the lecture like any ordinary offender, sacrificing the Sunday morning—all this for crossing the road opposite Lipton’s circus in an unmarked spot. I chose the second.  The two PCs who charged me waited patiently until I crossed the road from the wrong place, I did so to buy a copy of  which carried an article of mine. This happened on Tuesday, 13th around 10 am;one of them politely told me,“Sir, you have committed an offence under the section….of  …code, you are liable to be charged in traffic courts; or as an alternative you can attend our instructional programme on Sunday morning.”  My obvious choice was the second.

First thing I did at the Police Station was to talk to the traffic OIC and mark my presence and seek his permission to skip the session.

“You may please listen to a very interesting presentation with a few video clips at least for ten-fifteen minutes before you leave”, said the amiable officer;some consolation— sharp at 9.50 a constable switched on the projector, displaying basic traffic rules, road signs and a lesson for motor-cyclists. The fifteen-minute punitive period had long lapsed, but this officer made me sit attentively to his lively discussion and intermittent screening of professionally produced video clips showing several accidents, real tragic happenings as recorded on CCTV installed at central spots—the video produced courtesy an insurance company. I remained attentively till the end, ashamed, that I violated a road rule; the 75 minutes lapsed gracefully. The courteous officers at Cinnamon Gardens station treated all that gathered [about 30 violators of road/traffic rules], in an exemplary manner.  They deserve all credit for an excellent session.


Promotions 
Promotions were never granted by the governments in the past five decades without political influence or interference. There have been occurrences when suitable police officers could not get their legitimate promotions without political support; and instances when promotion were granted to officers punished by courts [even before the ink dried on paper], just to teach a lesson to the judge. The offence being violation of  human rights of a citizen to help a political cause.


Should an honest police officer salute a corrupt PS member?
A couple of years ago DIG Latiff had to undergo a vicious experience at Moneragala, when he guided the Police to arrest illegal sand miners in that area. Latiff was removed overnight. By deceive of terms the attempt was not a transfer, so it was made out to the media and the public. There has been many an editorial comment in the newspapers. This occurrence of failure in police action due to the political authority intervention is now history.

The Police service was established on an outstanding act of legislation called the ‘Police Ordinance’ of 1865, further enhanced by a document named Departmental Orders and a Constable Manual. This Police Ordinance lay down the primary policing command that any police officer exercises who is on duty at all times, day or night. 

Police in the past withstood the 1915 Sinhala/Muslim riots; the 1958 and 1983Tamil/ Sinhala clashes, which they ran successfully under numerous political pressure, violence by Southern  insurgents in 1971 and 1988/89: they can be proud of a relatively good criminal investigation record compared with other Asian neighbour countries, under extreme political interference. 


Surrender of 600 cops in the East
Demoralizing the entire service, over 600 policemen serving in the LTTE controlled East were ordered to surrender to terrorists by government at the height of terrorist conflict, a disgraceful and unprecedented act in the entire world’s police history.Our police service has been subjected to the worst form of violence against it over the 149 years of its existence. Some of the top officers had up-bringing, courage and a sense of uprightness; they were conscious that they would not be appreciated because it was a common feature of the post `77 era to opportunely forget sacrifices.
 
Prior to that era the politicians were cautious rather than demand illegal favours from the police. It was the custom for them to be mindful that the police had a sacred duty to perform, and that any attempt to meddle with the exercise of duties would be met with confrontation. However, in the post 1977 period many in the governing side-played ‘hora-police’, providing discrimination and unfairness instead of the rule of law. 

The police hierarchy was reduced to inactive spectators.

The post 1960 era saw a trend where many politicos assumed a police role dispensing injustice in place of the rule of law. When the exercise of the legitimate police role was relatively easy, there were giants, who made the role pretty calm and quiet. They were, to name a few; Sidney de Zoysa, Osmund de Silva, Stanley Senanayake and C.C. and S.A. Dissanayakes who were terrifying safeguards against obstruction by even the most powerful.  Police frequently turned a blind eye to rampaging mobs. Many officers were geared up to oblige the politician in return for promotions; seniority was no criterion. 

The Commission must ensure and enforce action to prevent abuse of policemen by political powers.To call a halt to the political abuse that is now practised at the whims and fancies of the politico, some of whom are themselves habitual criminals, the protector of local criminals or the underworld .

  Enough is enough; do Sri Lankan’s need this evil to continue?


Commission’s Mandate
The commission’s mandate may be to investigate and address complaints made by an individual regarding the conduct of a member of the police force, but It should also look into other aspects of police services including a review of police remuneration  and perks as well. Politics is corrupt to the core: they will
continue to abuse and misuse
The Superintendent of Noori Estate, Deraniyagala was killed a few years ago; a former Pradesheeya Sabha member who was close to a Chief Minister was alleged responsible, but police failed to act despite the presence of a SSP of the Division, and two DIGs in charge of the range and zone; they, who were frightened, lacked the courage or shamelessly connived with the local politician to allow this sad state of affairs to continue.
– ‘quis-custodiet-ipsos-custodes’-Cicero….Who will watch the watchmen?
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