Editorial: National Police Can And Must Do Better
As the National Police celebrate their 66th anniversary, they have much to be proud of. Since the police force became an independent organization after the fall of the New Order regime in 1998, the large majority of police officers have carried out their duties to the best of their abilities.
In the fight against terrorism, for example, the police have scored a number of successes, smashing terrorist cells and arresting those who wish to tear apart our social fabric. In their daily duties their work is often underappreciated.
But while the police should be congratulated for their efforts, there are still some very serious challenges ahead. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono highlighted one such challenge during a ceremony at Mobile Brigade headquarters.
The president asked the police to take firm action against groups that violate the constitutional rights of others. The president was speaking just hours after a police office in Tasikmalaya, West Java, was ransacked. The culprits are suspected to be members of the hard-line Islamic Defenders Front (FPI).
The FPI and other groups have been allowed to ride roughshod over minorities and other weaker members of society for far too long. On this particular issue, the police have failed to live up to their responsibility and their duty to protect the public against violence. If they are to gain the respect of the public, the police must do much better in dealing with vigilante groups and organizations that take the law into their own hands.
The police also need to improve on one other critical area: cutting corruption within the ranks. Despite a higher budget and the injection of greater professionalism, corruption continues to haunt the organization. As the police force transforms itself into a modern security organization, it must eliminate the problems of its past.