Who is policing the Police? | Daily News

Who is policing the Police?

The arrest of the Senior Superintendent of Police in charge of the Monaragala District for having in his possession 15 Kilograms of ganja (cannabis), no doubt, is another black mark against the country’s premier law enforcement agency to add to other acts of indiscretion in the recent past by our men in khaki that had caused immense damage and besmirched the name of a once honourable Police Force. Five others including the Constable driver of the SSP too had been taken into custody by a team of Police Commandos. The SSP was arrested during a raid conducted at his official residence by STF Intelligence members acting on a tip off, according to media reports.

This, while we have Police officers searching school bags of students at the entrance to school buildings for ‘ICE’ and other drugs. Could there be a more comic situation? What is this country coming to? What is going to happen to the much advertised campaign against the drug business when top cops themselves are neck deep into the racket? The Monaragala detection could well be the tip of the iceberg. It is difficult to believe that drug use has become so widespread in the country without the connivance of the law enforcement officers. What is happening to all those massive stocks of drugs seized by Police that are proudly shown on TV time and again? During the recent Budget debate in Parliament Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, PC spoke of how drugs in the custody of the Government Analyst’s Department, mysteriously gets transformed into brown sugar or wheat. He was voicing what after all is common knowledge. A couple of years ago three top sleuths of the Police Narcotics Bureau were arrested for being in cahoots with the drug kingpins. What became of their case is not known. Similarly what will become of the Monaragala SSP’s matter too will be a matter of conjecture. In all probability this too will be consigned to the forgotten things of limbo. Why not? Nobody speaks of Thilini Priyamali anymore. The death of Dinesh Schaffter too is no longer news.

Besides, top posts in the Police Service are more often than not conferred as a result of political patronage. The IGP, no less, disclosed that the main reason for the Police to act indifferently during the May 9 mayhem was because 90 percent of the OICs in the Provinces owed their appointments to ruling party politicians and hence was not geared for such onerous tasks. The Monaragala SSP may or may not have come through this route. In any event, public attention will be focused on this matter, if for no other reason than curiosity to know if officers of the law are treated differently whereas those in possession of a few grams of heroin are thrown behind bars in a bat of an eyelid. Law and Order Minister Tiran Alles should take action to deal severely with the SSP concerned who as a senior officer of Police had not only let the Department down badly but also set a bad example that would no doubt embolden those in the drug trade to now act with impunity without fearing the law. If a top law enforcement officer can peddle narcotics what harm if we do so will be the logic behind their thinking.

This is not the first occasion where a Police officer had been detected with drugs. During the COVID pandemic too several Police personnel were arrested for assisting in the transport of heroin. At this rate the campaign launched by the authorities in combating the drug menace in the country is bound to come a cropper, now that the Police itself are found to be deeply involved in the business. The job therefore should be handed over to the Special Task Force (STF) if not the Security Forces. The Police can no longer be trusted to do the job. Why, there was an instance where an IGP, no less, was a guest at a party thrown by a drug lord for his child at a five-star hotel many years ago. The credibility of our Police could not have hit such a low.

During the war years recruitment to the Police Force was done without proper screening due to the manpower shortage as with the armed services and in the melee bad eggs too found their way into the Police. We may be witnessing the consequences of this ill judged policy.

Of course, there are dedicated officers in the present Police Service but unfortunately they are in a minority. The case where a Police Sergeant single handedly grappled with two gunmen and prevented an armed robbery in Thambuttegama was one instance where this dedication was on full display. Alas, acts such as the one committed by the SSP of Monaragala negates all the good work of the Police leading to denting the morale of good officers. This is why the toughest action is called for against the SSP if we are to stem the rot.

There should be a complete overhaul of the Police Service. All bad eggs should be shown the door and appointments and promotions granted strictly on merit. What is required is an efficient, modern Police Force up to date with the latest methods, and, above all, a corrupt free one.

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