Police playing it safe in assault cases: Observers
The police are afraid of taking any chances in the investigation of the recent spate of violent attacks across Jakarta, critics said, citing allegations of soldiers’ involvement in such attacks as a possible reason.
“The police have always been like this. When dealing with cases that have no negative consequence to their existence, they’ll act swiftly and valiantly,” criminologist and police expert Bambang Widodo Umar told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.
“However, when they have to deal with cases that involve persons in power, either in politics, business or in the military, they’ll think twice before doing anything,” he said.
According to him, this attitude will have to change if the police really aim to protect the city’s residents, especially in the wake of the recent brutal assaults.
“Otherwise, street justice will never cease and innocent people will be victims,” said Bambang, who lectures at the University of Indonesia.
A string of vigilante acts has taken the capital by storm over the past two weeks, leaving two civilians dead and 15 others injured.
The police have confirmed that these attacks were acts of retaliation for the killing of Navy First Seaman Arifin Sirih by a group of people on Jl. Benyamin Sueb in Pademangan, North Jakarta, on March 31.
It has been reported that the assailants during the attacks on April 7, April 8 and April 13, used military lingo when addressing one another.
Bambang said that the police force’s top brass should show leadership and assertiveness in handling the case.
“The National Police chief or the President must give the city police an ultimatum: they must be able to solve the case within a certain period of time or someone must be held responsible,” he said.
Indonesia Police Watch (IPW) chairman Neta S. Pane shared Bambang’s sentiment, while also voicing his worries that the police might let the case slip away and be forgotten.
“Seeing how the police have handled the case so far, I’m afraid that it won’t be solved and will be neglected until the public forget that it ever happened,” he said.
Neta, however, urged the police to use all possible means to uncover the truth about the attacks.
“The police must solve the case, regardless of who are involved in the attacks. If they find that soldiers were involved, they can submit them to the military police,” Neta said.
“The important thing is that the case must be solved by any means necessary to prove that there is still justice in Jakarta,” he added.
Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Rikwanto said that the police and the military had acted professionally in handling the case.
“Since the beginning [of the investigation], the city police and the military have been working together to solve the case. We have shared every bit of information and analyzed CCTV footage of the crime scenes together,” he told reporters.
He also concurred that anyone suspected of involvement in the attacks was liable face to criminal charges.