Another blotch on the Police | Daily News

Another blotch on the Police

The Acting OIC of the Kebithigollewa Police has been admitted to the Anuradhapura Hospital after being allegedly assaulted by an SSP, according to Police Spokesman SSP Nihal Talduwa. According to media reports, the SSP of the Kebithigollewa Division had summoned the Acting OIC to his office to inquire about an ongoing Court case. The alleged assault had taken place during the meeting. According to information, however, the Acting OIC had first pushed the SSP who had then retaliated by pushing the former and he had fallen on a chair. Another report says the SSP had hit the Acting OIC in the face.  

Can there be a more ridiculous situation than this? It certainly is hilarious, if not for the serious nature of the incident. Here we have a situation where a guardian of the law is assaulting a fellow guardian of the law. Can this happen? How will the public react to such a situation? What faith or confidence can the public have in the Police when law officers appointed by the State to protect them from harm are themselves engaging in free-for-alls?  

What example are the officers of the law setting, by, instead of upholding the law, acting in total breach of the law? Assault, or bodily harm, is an offence that carries heavy penalties in terms of the law. IGP Chandana Wickremaratne has rightly ordered a probe into the incident. Such conduct on the part of senior Police officers should be viewed seriously. Whoever is found guilty should be given the maximum punishment. The public should be made aware that officers of the law are not beyond the law if the Police are to command public respect.   

Won't incidents such as this embolden thugs and criminal elements too to be free with their fists, always citing the example set by the SSP? No wonder the accusing finger is often pointed at the Police when suspects die while in Police custody when we have officers with a violent bent donning the Khaki uniform. A Police officer turning on a fellow officer is a rarity. How are the Police going to sort out public disputes and cases of assault brought before it when the men in Khaki are themselves fighting among themselves?  

This column had always been saying that the flawed recruitment procedure to the Police Service followed during the war years had led to violence and indiscipline among the ranks of the Police. The manpower shortage and other exigencies forced the Defence establishment to dispense with strict screening procedures adopted earlier when recruitment was done to the Police. This resulted in bad eggs and undesirables too, getting selected and the Kebethigollewa incident may or may not be a consequence of this. Hence, the need has arisen to identify the misfits and violent elements within the Khaki brigade and a thorough spring cleaning undertaken if the Police is to be returned to its former glory days.   

This incident is another black mark on the already besmirched reputation acquired by the Police in recent times. It was only last week that the media reported how another SSP was caught with a haul of Cannabis in his residence together with implements used for treasure hunting. Law and Order Minister Tiran Alles on Tuesday admitted that there were Police officers involved with kingpins in the drugs trade.  

Addressing a conference of OICs and Gazetted Officers of the Sri Lanka Police at Suhurupaya, the Minister said: “the biggest problem we have is the drug menace. We have to somehow put a stop to it. I know certain Police officers are connected to this. What should be done, initially, is to stop any contact with those selling drugs.” He also spoke of the need for fighting the underworld, for the drug business and underworld are two sides of the same coin.  

As a first step, the Police Service should undergo a radical transformation. There is a vital need for fresh thinking and innovation to match modern times and modern crimes. Crime has assumed new dimensions with the drugs element and a free flow of modern weapons in the possession of the underworld. The officers should be given special training and combat skills to confront the challenge. In fact, the fight against the underworld and the drug mafia should be carried out with the same intensity as the war against terrorism.  

There is no doubt that there are men and women in the Police Service with the necessary skills and commitment to fit the bill. What they need is encouragement, moral support and the necessary incentives. Police officers ready to take on the underworld and the drug mafia should be convinced that their efforts will be rewarded. In this respect, Minister Alles’ resolve to rid the Police of all political influence is to be commended. Following the May 9 mayhem, he took steps to rid the Police of all personnel who received promotions through political influence and replaced them with competent men and women. It is such action that encourages and provides the drive for officers to give their best to the Service.

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