The police are in the spotlight again and, as in most cases when they come under the media glare, it is for all the wrong reasons. A survey found them to be perceived as the most corrupt of all the government officials, including politicians.
The survey findings, released in the midst of a media reporting frenzy over the allegations of abuse of power and malfeasance in high places, should move the top guns in the force and those in authority to institute changes quickly so that public regard for members of the force improves. As realised by the commission set up three years ago to look into the affairs of the police force it is not easy to change the age old "standard" perception that the public have about the police. Unfortunately this perception continues to be reinforced by occasional reports of policemen being arrested for all kinds of crimes, especially soliciting for bribes. It matters little that only a small percentage of the police officers are still involved after some moves have been instituted by the force to curb corruption.
Perhaps it would help matters and do a lot to change public perception if the commission's proposal for an IPCMC is implemented. But whether the IPCMC or its alternative is set up, the upshot of it all is that the civilian law enforcement agency must improve its image so that public confidence in it is further improved.
Despite the bad image they are still very much depended on to secure our lives and property while we sleep. And reports about accused persons being acquitted by the courts because our policemen are said to have bungled in their investigations have not affected this dependability. Others may have bungled too.
Let us help our men in blue to improve their image by, for instance, cooperating with them when they ask us to move our cars from a congested area and show them our driving licence. And above all let us not bribe them.
Their image suffers easily, more than the rest of government officials, because they are the most visible and are in contact with the public at all times. And they are constantly required to perform new tasks, some of which do not come under the preview of the Police Act.
Thus, the meaning of maintaining public order has been stretched to include catching truants and riding shotgun on long distance buses. sun2surf