Letter: Judging our police proportionally
One day, a friend of mine, a police officer with the rank of brigadier, expressed regret over stigmatization targeting the police when conflict and violence erupted in Papua and elsewhere in the country. “The police are always wrong. If we take action, we are accused being repressive; but if we remain silent, we are also criticized,” he said.
I think his statement is logical and should spark a discourse.
The reform era has indeed brought a new climate to the country. Under the New Order, the government silenced the aspirations of the people. During the reform era, people enjoy the freedom to voice aspirations, including criticism of the government.
No doubt freedom of speech is the fruit of reform. Papuan people are free to express their opinions during rallies under the democratic system of the country. Unfortunately, violence and brutality on the part of the protesters have always marred rallies.
The protesters’ provocative attitude seems designed to anger the security forces. Then comes the police’s spontaneous reaction, which is often misunderstood. Many regard the police as violent and cruel. Scapegoating the police is unfair and must be clarified. We need a balanced point of view to appraise the police as individuals and as an institution.
Substantively, the police are tasked with protecting and providing security to the public. The police must ensure the safety, comfort and happiness of society. So the police should act in the interests of the public. But they are also human beings, who can commit mistakes, lose their temper and have other aspects of humanity. They may also feel afraid or even panic.
The police often face a dilemmatic situation. On one hand they are expected to serve as a community partner, but on the other hand they have to deal with a brutal wave of protests. It is a very human reaction when they take actions in self-defense.
There are three other factors that drive the police’s “tough” reaction. First is the physiological factor. The police work 24 hours. This automatically triggers saturation of the police’s physics and mentality. Their decisions and actions do not come from a vacuum.
Second is the financial factor. Lower-ranking officers conduct relatively heavy duties, but are poorly paid. Of course the police do not want to die because of this.
Third are external factors, which include personal affairs of the police outside their jobs, for example family matters. Although it is not ethical to bring personal issues into the workplace, in many cases, this ruling does not work.
I am sure if the police were asked to choose between securing or not securing demonstrations, they would prefer not to. Unfortunately the police force only recognizes the word “ready”.
Mansata Indah Dwi Utari
Grobogan, Central Java