The boys in blue

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There was a lot of emotion on display after the killing of wife beater Bhavish Rosun by a cop on duty. Some hailed the policeman as a national hero for having saved the wife and her children from the hands of a wild and violent father. Others deplored the loss of a life, irrespective of the profile of the deceased. 

What has been lost in the debate is the bigger, much bigger, picture. For it is not just the loss of that one life that is the problem. It is the whole generalised atmosphere prevailing in the country that we should be concerned about. For as long as that has not been taken care of, none of us will feel safe in this country. 

First, anyone who pays a visit to the Line Barracks is immediately thrust into a different era. The conditions the police work in are utterly inhumane and send us to a different century where technology was unaffordable or inexistent. In many quarters, police officers are still using notepads, pens and rulers. There is hardly any computer in sight or any type of technology likely to make their jobs easier. At a time when we are spending billions – literally – on useless and even repressive high-sounding, pompous projects that do nothing to improve our lives – pray tell how many activities have been organised in the Côte d’Or sports stadium, for example, since the last games some six months ago – our policemen are left to work in archaic, inefficient and demotivating conditions. As for comfort, forget air-conditioning in the brain-numbing heat. They’d be lucky to have a fan. So what kind of training is given to our police officers and how often are questions I am a little scared to ask.

“In this generalised atmosphere of nepotism, cronyism, chaos and incompetence, just how do we expect our institutions – particularly one as important as the police – to deliver the goods they are paid to deliver?”

Secondly, the police uniform – once honourable and prestigious – has lost a lot of its lustre when respectable police officers started acting as watchmen for private companies in order to have the government shoulder the cost of the tramway instead of Larson and Toubro carrying the can. Then as soon as there were no construction materials to watch over, our police officers were shifted to act as a human barrier between traffic and the tramway and having to manage a totally chaotic situation, resulting in some near-misses and some rather ludicrous situations.

Thirdly, we have been watching in apathy and indifference the promotions of police officers based on who they know rather than what they know and rising from nothing to the highest ranks due to their connections. And we have seen the speed with which some of the lucky ones were whisked out of the crime scene at Wooton and allowed to walk free. We have also seen brave policemen and women being transferred to locations where they spend the best part of their day travelling just because they had the temerity to take on a self-important crony. The constant warped signals being sent to the police force are dangerous, not only for them but for all of us.

In this generalised atmosphere of nepotism, cronyism, chaos and incompetence, just how do we expect our institutions – particularly one as important as the police – to deliver the goods they are paid to deliver? I worry about the state of anarchy we are sinking into. I worry about the institutions of this country. I worry about you and me. We don’t feel safe anymore. 

This is not just a question of one cop killing a suspect or others allowing a person they injured to die while they were trying to save their skin. This is about a whole police force not being helped, encouraged, let alone trained to be up to the challenges it is called upon to face. It is about your safety and mine! Just the thought makes me shudder. 

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