On June 15 President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo submitted the name of Comr. Gen. Tito Karnavian as the sole candidate for National Police chief to the House of Representatives.
This submission also ended speculation as to whether the tenure of police chief Gen. Badrodin Haiti would be extended.
Tito passed the House confirmation hearing and is due to be installed today on National Police Day (Hari Bhayangkara).
This is the right time for the youngest three-star general to better implement police reform. Since 1999, the impact of police reform attempts has been minimal.
The US researcher Allene Masters in her study released last year argues that there has been disconnection “between the orders for the National Police’s reform and their actual implementation”.
She added, “No concrete steps have been realized to improve police accountability or make the police more representative of the population, nor have target dates been set or measure of progress been instituted.”
Public distrust of the police reflects the ineffectiveness of police reform. The most outstanding unresolved problem is corruption within the force and low clear-up rate of public complaints and handling of crimes, followed by terror attacks and violence at the community level.
The global NGO Transparency International published its 2013 Global Corruption Barometer in Indonesia, which reported people’s direct experiences with bribery in Indonesia’s main institutions.
The National Police was perceived as the most corrupt institution in Indonesia above the legislature, judiciary, political parties and civil servants, with a score of 4.5 out of 5.
According to this report, 65 percent of respondents paid bribes to the police.
In the last five years the average clear-up rate of public complaints and handling of crimes was barely 56 percent.
Last December the police chief reported that police solved only 178,495 cases out of the total of 316,445 crimes.
The level of public security and trust has decreased with the increase in the number of terror attacks in the last five years.
There were 61 attacks in the last six years, with 19 attacks in the last two years.
The latest was the bomb and gun attack on Jan. 14 in the Thamrin business district in Central Jakarta. Six people died including four terrorists.
From 2010 until 2014, there were 473 violent conflicts at the community level. The latter included those listed as ethnic conflicts, land disputes and religious clashes.
These incidents happened in Maluku, Aceh, West Kalimantan, Central Sulawesi, North Maluku and Papua.
The problem of public mistrust demands the National Police immediately improve police reform and provide the public with a new image that police should achieve.
It can be started by developing some flagship programs such as developing “e-policing”, reinforcing integrated criminal justice, strengthening the antiterrorist force Densus 88 and empowering community policing.
An electronic system, among other facilities, must be developed for preventing bribery and abuse of authority by police officers particularly in the traffic division.
Such “e-policing” could boost the public perception of the the National Police and improve its internal management as well.
Another flagship program is to improve the clear-up rate. The above researcher, Masters, also shows that a very low clear-up rate is due to discrepancies of crime investigators especially at the regency and lower levels, quite apart from “inefficiency in budget spending and lack of well qualified crime investigators”.
To improve the quality of investigators, the National Police’s assesments of investigators’ performance must continue.
Strengthening of the antiterrorism force Densus 88 should include upgrading its weapons and equipment — and also improving deradicalization efforts including netralizing radical ideology through interdisciplinary approaches including legal, psychological, religious and socio-cultural approaches to those who have been exposed to violent radicalism.
Last but not least, violence at the community level should be addressed through enhancing community policing by placing a public order officer in each subdistrict.
This would promote a partnership between the police and local communities in addressing local security and social problems. As of now, we have only 58,625 such officers in 80,285 subdistricts.
Expectations that the new National Police chief will bring about changes that can improve public perception and address widespread distrust of the National Police are high.
The new National Police chief Comr. Gen. Tito needs to deliver those expectations and offer sustainable security and order to the Indonesian people.
The writer, an alumnus of the Crawford School of Public Policy at the Australian National University (ANU), is a planner at the directorate of defense and security of the National Development Planning Agency (Bappenas). The views expressed are his own.
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