We can describe many jobs as challenging, but few match the responsibilities of police officers and soldiers, the latter in wartime. But the only war we face is the one against criminals. In that deadly battle, the front-line people, risking life and limb every day, are our good police officers. We have just seen appalling statistics from the Police Complaints Authority on the alleged rogues in the Police Service. But we must remember, too, that for every rogue, there are over 20 good ones, dedicated, committed, and working round the clock to protect and serve us. As bad as crime is, were it not for those officers, the situation would be much worse.
Those who live up to the Police Service motto “to protect and serve with professionalism, respect, integrity, dignity and excellence—PRIDE” are our protectors. They deserve our respect and encouragement. The rogues within must be flushed out. Suggestion: It might be helpful to review the Police Regulations on the disciplinary procedure to make it an efficient and effective system.
Also it may be useful for the Government to consider in consultation with the TTPS and the Police Welfare Association, making body cameras mandatory once officers are on duty. Countries have found them beneficial in providing credible video evidence that helps police investigations and court proceedings. Body cameras should be a priority if a serious problem is officers’ abuse of authority and questionable killings? The devices will also serve to clear officers against allegations of wrongdoing.
All honest officers should reflect deeply on the “band of brothers” culture that shields rogue officers who bring the institution into disrepute. Still, most of our police officers are good people, with families feeling the same fears and pain we feel.
Based on victims’ public statements and other general commentaries, there appears to be an increasing lack of confidence in the authorities’ ability to deal decisively with the crime situation. Generations of citizens have lived through terror in their communities. They continue to do so from infancy to adulthood. The authorities have been unable to dismantle criminal gangs on an island that one could virtually drive around in a day. It is hard to accept that gangsters can continue to make war on each other and cause communities to become killing fields and law enforcers cannot do anything while children live out their nightmares.
Amnesty International states, “Gun violence is a contemporary global human rights issue. Gun-related violence threatens our most fundamental human right, the right to life.” Also, “When people are afraid of gun violence, this can also have a negative impact on people’s right to education or health care when they are too afraid to attend schools or health facilities or if these services are not fully functioning due to firearm violence in their community.”
The firearm homicide rate is rising worldwide. Regardless of the countries’ crime-fighting sophistication, governments and their police face daunting challenges. Nearly everywhere, citizens experience traumatic situations daily. Some must contend with wars, ethnic violence, famine, and deprivation that devastate their lives. Our problem isn’t unique. However, widespread crime in a small country is intolerable. We must stop making excuses for adults who choose crime as a way of life.
We install burglar proofing, cameras, and alarms, pay neighbourhood security fees and look back, left, and right to see who is around. And too, we must contend with an irregular water supply, buy water tanks, pay to maintain all, throw away spoilt food because of electricity outages, and will have to pay property tax for no improvement in service. We pay a high price for our tolerance, and we forgive as easily as we ramajay.
Compounding citizens’ stress is unhinged communication that shatters confidence in the Police Service and the Government. Killings with legal guns, illegal guns coming through ports and customs, and unlawful quarrying linked to crime are over 60-years-old stale news. So, the Minister and the Police Service do themselves no good by sounding as though they had just found out. Constantly publishing big hauls of high-powered weaponry, drug finds, and discovery of lush marijuana fields begs the obvious question. Why is no one arrested and charged? Perhaps they are, but we are only bombarded with murders and weapons, heightening fears and forcing legitimate questions about competence. Suggestion: If the goal is to publish successes, then it will be wise to do so in a way that inspires confidence.