From politicians to the average citizen, it seems everyone has his two cents when it comes to the police and their crime-busting methods.
The Borneo Post received a lot feedback since the helicopter story was published. While most adopted a ‘wait-and-see’ attitude, there were some who were quick to criticise the move as a waste of taxpayers’ money and even questioned the rationale behind such a tactic, branding it as nothing more than a publicity stunt.
To be fair to the men in blue, the ones who were calling for a stronger police presence in the face of a string of housebreaking cases and armed robberies that included the homes of VVIPs, are the same ones who are now berating the eye-inthe-sky tactic.
A reader even sent a text message questioning the competence of the police in handling the helicopters, saying she feared for the safety of the pilots as well as those on the ground should the untoward happen.
Statistics, however, show that a person is more likely to meet his end in a car accident than from a helicopter falling from the sky.
Coupled with the police air unit’s spotless track record since its inception, it would appear the reader was being rather callous and unfair to the police in his comments.
Yet with the rising cost of living playing on people’s minds, it is understandable why certain quarters are somewhat reserved about the use of the helicopters and rightly question the costeffectiveness of the strategy.
If the helicopters are to be deployed in the battle against crime, then the benefits derived from their use must outweigh the costs involved for the strategy to be considered worthwhile, and therefore accepted, by the public.
After all, it is our tax money which is being used to fund the machines and we as taxpayers have the moral right to know and to question how our money is being spent.
Some police officers themselves have also questioned (in private, of course) the tactic of using the helicopters, saying that crime in the city has not yet reached a level that warrants such a drastic (and dramatic) measure.
So the onus is on the top brass of the police to properly assess the long-term viability of such a strategy and whether or not a less costly (but equally effective) alternative can be found.
On another matter, the continuous call by the police for public cooperation in providing information regarding criminal activities taking place in their neighbourhood seems to have been well received.
Several recent successes, such as the arrest of the nine foreign suspects believed to be responsible for the spate of armed robberies, as well as a large bust of illegal VCDs and DVDs, have all been attributed to tip-offs from the public.
(It is worth mentioning that there has not been another armed robbery at a house here since the nine suspects were arrested, so congratulations and thank you to the cops for bringing an end, albeit after 25 cases, to the gang’s reign of terror).
In order to foster better policepublic relationship, it is essential that the men in blue not only be seen but, more importantly, accepted as part of the local community.
The image of the police, which unfortunately is currently at a low, needs to be improved to the point where people respect the uniform and look up to the profession as one of integrity and honour.
More community-oriented programmes in schools and housing estates can help bring the people closer to the police.
Crime prevention talks involving home and business owners, as well as women and children, can help educate the public on ways to avoid becoming victims of crime.
Regular foot patrols by officers would also allow the public to meet and interact with their local police officers to air whatever grievances that are affecting them.
Simple yet effective strategies like these can, in the long term, help forge a strong and beneficial relationship between members of the force and the community they serve.
Bp Sunday, May 4th, 2008 (On Second Thoughts)