Sat, 22 Feb 2003

'Police are involved in the scandal'

The police have blamed easily obtained police and military uniforms and badges and a lack of regulation governing the trade on the emergence of bogus police officers extorting people around the city. Some city residents said there were cause-and-effect relationships between the apparently phony officers and the unregulated uniform sales. The Jakarta Post talked to them and here are their responses:

Wijoseno, 29, is a resident of Kampung Ambon in East Jakarta. He lives there with his family:

I have never experienced nor met bogus police officers. I don't know much about them, or even if they exist.

I have a relative who works as a debt collector. He is well- built and always wears military-style garb including the standard green T-shirt and boots. The way he behaves sometimes, people think he must be a police or military officer. Is he considered as bogus?

Well, if people think he is, I think we cannot just blame him for it. He performs that way because they are his only role model, namely the real police or military officers. His attitudes resemble those officers because of that.

Besides, he is like any of us who can easily obtain police or military clothing and accessories in the market. There is no regulation banning the sale of such things, despite the risks.

Of course, the existing free market for the uniforms could further serve to tarnish the image of the police, which has been deteriorating for a long time. Civilians can afford the authentic-quality uniforms if they negotiate well. I have even bought a bag specifically produced for the military.

Abas, not his real name, 33, is a police officer at the City Police Headquarters. He resides in Tebet, South Jakarta with his wife and two children:

I reckon that bogus police officers sometimes derived from a term so-called 'bodreks (bogus)' in which a real police officer accompanied by some civilians who resort to illegal confiscation or extortion. Usually, the civilians are the overacting ones who used to work jointly with the police as informants.

Perhaps there is a conspiracy between undisciplined and disloyal police officers and the bogus ones. When the fraudsters tried to raid a gambling den, for instance, they could perform as if doing it all legally. Realistically, only trained police officers know the exact confiscation procedures and techniques. The question is, who has taught those fraudsters or civilians the police procedures?

Worse still, there are more and more police officers who have deserted or been dishonorably discharged, for undisciplined behavior or attitudes. The well-trained deserters have the potential to resort to crime, but let's not forget, there are many many real police officers who also abuse the regulations.

In many ways, I know that police officers behave just like thugs who extort money from the civilians. We can see those who always stop and extort trucks drivers on the toll roads.

It's very difficult to arrest the fraudsters as they usually operate at different police precincts' and, in case, they were under arrest they would admit that they come from a certain police station which in fact is not true. For instance, they operate in Bogor, West Java, but they name themselves on behalf of the city police headquarters in Jakarta.

I don't blame the vendors selling the military uniforms at the ordinary markets because they have been doing so for a long time. However, it would be better for the vendors to be more selective with their buyers. They should be required to ask for military or police ID cards to differentiate the civilians and the officers to prevent any irregularities.

Actually, I wonder why such goods are freely sold on the market anyway. Who has put them on the market? I think that's the issue.

Perhaps the commanders or high-ranking officers should think over the matter. Otherwise, rampant abuse by bogus officers will taint the police's reputation in general.

Popi, not her real name, 29, is a housewife residing in Cakung, East Jakarta with her family:

I'm of the opinion that it would be better to ban the public sales of police or military uniforms in an attempt to prevent the presence of bogus police officers. The free market here has given bad people an opportunity to resort to crime.

I personally don't blame the vendors who sell those goods. They are ordinary vendors who earn money for their living just like other vendors.

I guess the police should check their own supply department which is the only one authorized to sell the stuff. Internally, the police must find the officers responsible for the leakage in such a way that those goods are sold outside the police authority. It seems that high-ranking officers are involved in the scandal.

I think there is a positive correlation between the existing bogus police officers and the unregulated sale of police uniforms in the market.

But the internal verification would, at least, minimize the worsening fraud that threatens the public security.