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Indonesia's police force launches reforms

Publication Date : 04-05-2014

 

In an unprecedented move lauded by many, Indonesia's National Police have launched a modest cleanup operation within the force.

Over the past few weeks, the force has been making strides to eradicate corruption among its ranks, including the arrest of middle-ranking police officers over bribery allegations.

National Police spokesperson Insp. Gen. Ronny F. Sompie said on Saturday that the police were improving transparency and accountability.

“The National Police have been making good on [promises of] internal reform, which include reinforcing the supervision system,” he said.

On Thursday, the force issued a five-point instruction aimed at improving public service at the municipal and district levels.

Among the points, municipal police chiefs (kapolres) and below are no longer to have aides.

“Members of the force should be free to serve and protect the public, rather than assisting their superiors” National Police deputy chief Comr. Gen. Badrodin Haiti said.

In addition, a number of city- and municipal-level police officers will be transferred to the district- and sub-district level and fresh police-academy graduates will be prohibited from being instated as unit leaders in the Traffic Corps, infamous as one of the police’s most corrupt divisions.

The last point in the instruction mandated that an officer looking to fill in the position of Traffic Corps chief (Kasat Lantas) must first have served in other divisions, such as community development.

These instructions follow several bold moves by the force to reform and shake up its image.

Previously, Ronny said that the Internal Affairs Division (Divpropam) had been paying special attention to corruption within the force.

“Our Divpropam, through its internal security bureau, conducted undercover supervision on 31 regional police offices and 450 police precincts...It is more about prevention rather than security operation or arrest,” he said in a text message

Earlier in the month, the Divpropam arrested a businessman who was helping people obtain official documents such as driver’s licenses (SIM) and vehicle registration certificates (STNK).

The suspect was caught with a large sum of money at a SIM and STNK registration building at the Jakarta Police. It is alleged that the suspect had intended to bribe police officers. Divpropam has questioned at least three officers from the East Java Police’s traffic division since the infiltration

Jakarta Police spokesperson Sr. Comr. Rikwanto declined to comment on the case. But East Java Police spokesperson Sr. Comr. Awi Setiyono confirmed that the arrest was part of the National Police’s efforts to “cleanup”.

On Friday evening dozens of middle- and low-ranking officers from the Jakarta and East Java traffic divisions were transferred to regions in the eastern part of Indonesia following an instruction from National Police chief Gen. Sutarman.

The transferred officers included the chiefs of both provinces’ traffic divisions. Awi, however, denied this was linked to the recent arrest.

Last year, former National Police Traffic Corps chief Insp. Gen. Djoko Susilo was sentenced to 10 years in prison for inflating the driving simulator procurement project budget.

An Indonesian Ombudsman study in 2013 found that the culture of corruption at the Traffic Corps had dripped down to the provincial and district levels. According to the Ombudsman’s probe in several cities, some police officials allow citizens to get a license without a driving test, for as little as 180,000 rupiah, or more if they hire a middleman.

The Indonesian Police Watch (IPW) is intent on ensuring that it sees the good example set by the National Police chief followed throughout the country, but warns of a familiar tactic used by past chiefs to enhance their reputation. “Every new leader wants to break new ground or impress,” said IPW chief Neta S. Pane on Saturday.

Neta urged all parties to support the efforts by the National Police to improve the accountability of its officers, but called on everyone to play “watchdog” and see whether the police chief is determined to ring in the changes. “We must be cautious and wait for [the police’s] next move.”

Although Neta expects the reforms to improve the quality of the Traffic Corps, he called on the police to inspect other divisions.

According to Muhammad Nasir, a National Police Commission (Kompolnas) commissioner, the efforts of the National Police are still insufficient, even if what they have done, thus far, need praise. Nasir said the police needed to be more open to the public if they wanted reform to be successful.

 

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