A unique act of bravery | Daily News

A unique act of bravery

The Police have recently come under heavy flak from the public and on most occasions deservedly so. This column too at times has not been very complimentary of the men in Khaki and had been critical of Police excesses. However, when warranted we also have not hesitated to praise the Police and offered kudos to any special acts of bravery on the part of Police officers.

Today too, we hasten to compliment a brave Police officer who, regardless of the threat to his life, intervened to foil a daring daylight robbery, in the process arresting the robbers who were armed to the teeth. We are referring to our main story yesterday where the heroics of the Police officer concerned were reported in detail.

The hero is Police Sergeant Buddhika Kumara. He single-handedly thwarted the armed robbery and overpowered the assailants before they were arrested by the public and a special contingent from the Thambuttegama Police. What was special in the deed was that Sergeant Buddhika attached to the Miscellaneous Complaints Division of the Thambuttegama Police had no obligation to act the way he did, being on another assignment and in fact had come to the filling station to pump fuel to his motorcycle.

It was thereafter while he was going to the bank to deposit money that the scene unfolded where two motorcyclists in full-face helmets had attempted to rob a businessman of Rs.22 million while taking the money to the same bank. Regardless of his personal safety and the fact that the robbers were armed, Kumara gave chase and overpowered the assailants even as they pointed a gun at his chest and flung chilli powder at him.

This act of bravery indeed calls for praise of the highest order for the Police officer who did not hesitate to do what was needed, giving true meaning to the term law enforcement. Such personnel are rare indeed in a Police Force known for taking things easy and only keen to do the bidding of politicians. Sergeant Kumara will no doubt receive due recognition from the authorities for his selfless deed and be fittingly rewarded by his superiors.

If the Police Service had even a fraction of officers of his calibre, most crimes, robberies and other misdeeds could have been eliminated to a great degree. His family members, particularly children, if any, too should be rewarded, for had things turned out differently they would have been without a father. They deserve better schooling and other facilities.

Hopefully, this signal act of Sergeant Kumara of thwarting a crime by virtually taking his own life into his hands would spur other Police officers too, to play a proactive role in arresting the runaway crimes and killings taking place in the country.

At the beginning of August in these spaces we focused on the steep rise in the number of killings and the sheer ineffectiveness of the Police to arrest even a single suspect. According to media reports, in June and July alone, there were 20 such killings, 15 of which were reported from the Southern Province (SP). In August, there were 10 more murders, bringing the spate of killings to 30 within just three months.

Earlier this month, the Police Service marked 156 years. However, it is a stunning indictment on the country’s premier law enforcement agency that it has so far failed to apprehend even a single person responsible for these dastardly murders carried out in broad daylight by motorcycle assassins wearing full-face helmets.

The nonchalant manner in which killings and robberies are carried out gives one the impression that there is no law in this country and that we have become another Chicago. Almost all the slayings and daylight robberies have been committed by motorcycle riders.

During the fear psychosis in 1988-99 following similar killings conducted by motorcycle riders where politicians and other prominent individuals were the main targets, the Government imposed a ban on full-face helmets in a bid to properly identify the killers. A similar measure should be adopted at present as well as an interim measure until the Police are able to get their act together and go after the culprits in earnest. It is the primary task of the Police to protect the innocent public but sadly this is not being done as it should be.

The Police as a whole should be upgraded and modernized to enable its men and women to face new challenges. Crime has evolved new dimensions due to the involvement of the drugs element and also the free circulation of firearms - a direct result of the 30-year-old conflict.

As a first measure steps should be taken to round up all firearms by offering an amnesty to those who surrender them, no questions asked. Incentives should also be offered to the public to provide more information on criminals and the widespread circulation of firearms. Every possible measure should be tried out to arrest the deteriorating situation and provide a peaceful climate for the public to move about freely without fear and to lead a normal existence.

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