The handicaps of the police | Daily News

The handicaps of the police

It has long puzzled ordinary folk in this country as to how crime suspects accompanying policemen to point out location of arms caches get themselves conveniently bumped off. The stock response has always been that the suspects suddenly pulled out a hidden firearm and attempted to shoot the officers with them. Now we have a clear explanation from no less a personage than Senior DIG Western Province Deshabandu Tennakoon for this phenomenon. Appearing on a talk show on a private TV channel, the other day, Tennakoon said there were 27 contract killers on the loose, a majority of them with military training, who are considered extremely dangerous. “These men are capable of carrying out drive in shootings. They can manoeuvre a motorcycle with one hand, and, at the same time, shoot with a rifle with the other”. Hence, policemen have to act fast in self defence and have been ordered to shoot at the first sign of a threatening move by those in their custody.

This explanation is indeed intriguing. It is common knowledge, nay a ground rule, that all suspects accompanying police officers to locations of arms caches are manacled, which make it next to impossible to pull out a fire arm and turn it on the accompanying police party (even remand prisoners are manacled when they are brought to court houses). Besides, prior to these forays the suspects are obviously thoroughly frisked for any hidden weapon, particularly given the frequency in which such episodes were taking place. Is the Senior DIG suggesting that the Police party and the criminal they are accompanying to locations of hidden weapons were getting on like a house on fire and it was at the point of detection that the suspect turns hostile and tries to attack the officers concerned? What about the countless instances where suspects had died while in police custody. Were they too having weapons hidden on their person while being confined to their cells? Those who have met with such a fate in the past could certainly not have been as dangerous as the 27 professional killers the Senior DIG mentions.

True, the police is today performing a thankless job and undergoing grave risks in their campaign to eradicate underworld crime and the narcotics business. They (police) today, as at no other time before, are fighting against severe odds in their anti-crime operations due to the exponential growth of the underworld that is being fueled by drug money. Hence, there is no doubt that they are carrying out their duties under tremendous strain and tension which may result in certain excesses. If, as the Senior DIG mentioned, there are 27 contract killers who, perhaps, enjoy killing, on the loose, the police, certainly, have their work cut out. This could well be one of the reasons for some of the officers to be trigger happy and act on impulse.

This is all the more reason for the police service to undergo a complete overhaul to make it equal to the task of meeting with the new challenges and new dimensions crime has assumed. The police service has come a long way from the days when serious crime were few and far between and where only those arousing sensationalism such murder due to love affairs and poisoning of paramours / mistresses held the attention of the nation. Hence there is a dire need for a police service to be up to the task to face the serious challenges thrown.

True, there are dedicated and efficient police officers in the service who are wedded to their duty and are above corruption. They deserve all praise and plaudits. Unfortunately they too are being tarred with the same brush today due to the acts of the few bad eggs. Perhaps the liberal recruitment done to the police service during the war years may have paved the way for the corrupt elements to enter the service and tarnish the image of the police service as a whole.

Rewards to police officers too have come under scrutiny recently following revelations that certain Narcotic Bureau officers recently arrested for colluding with drug lords had been recipients of rewards and Presidential awards. Rewards, if at all, should be given to police informants who lead the police to crime detection. It is these elements who are at risk from the criminals and money given to them cannot be begrudged. Besides, police officers should not be paid additionally for what is, after all, performing their official duties.

As already stated, the police, as a whole, needs a thorough shake up to meet the new challenges and changing scenario, with crime interwoven with the drugs trade and sophisticated weapons in free circulation. Special training needs to be given to the new recruits to the police service to make them adapt to the new realities. Stringent measures should be taken by the authorities to weed out corruption in the police service. Steps should also be taken to make the police officers a satisfied and contended lot by increasing their salaries and other emoluments and grant them their due promotions. This, perhaps, may keep them out of temptation's way.