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‘Police reform’ key to conflict management
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
The police remain the key figure in handling increasing violence and horizontal conflicts, although in several cases they have done little to prevent such acts of violence from occurring, analysts say.
Samsu Rizal Panggabean, a security expert at Yogyakarta’s Gadjah Mada University said Tuesday that police reform was key to dealing with thuggery and various acts of violence in the country, especially as it would bring the police closer to the public.
He said this could be achieved through problem-oriented policing and community-oriented policing strategies, which formed the approach of community policing.
Such police-community partnerships, Samsu explained, had been successfully implemented in countries such as the US, Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand and India.
“In those countries, [the partnership] is applied to tackle local crimes and problems related to community relations, such as relations between majority and minority groups or between different religious groups,” Samsu said.
He cited India where police worked with local administrations and communities to tackle interreligious conflict through neighborhood peace committees.
“In Mumbai [India], for example, the police chief actively attends committee meetings and shares information with stakeholders to solve community problems,” he said.
Samsu added that the National Police had attempted to adopt community policing in several cities including Bekasi, Yogyakarta, Surakarta, Surabaya, Makassar and Manado, although there has been no evaluation on its implementation.
“Support from various elements of society will make the police more confident in enforcing the law and punishing violators.”
Samsu said in reference to a recent incident of violence by members of the hard-line Islam Defenders Front (FPI) that police had not received enough support from the public, including from other Islamic organizations, to take action against the group.
The recent months have seen a series of attacks by the FPI and clashes among religious and ethnic groups.
Last month, dozens of FPI members forcibly broke up a meeting in Banyuwangi, East Java, that was attended by legislators overseeing health affairs. The protesters alleged the meeting was a reunion for former members of the now-defunct and outlawed Indonesian Communist Party (PKI).
Some Islamic groups in Bekasi also pushed to disband a church whose followers they accused of proselytizing. In Bogor, police under pressure from Islamic groups, closed down an Ahmadiyah house of worship.
University of Indonesia criminologist Eko Hariyanto said police had to take stern measures against acts of violence and bring the cases to court.
The police “tend to do nothing if there is any violence involving the masses,” he said.
Eko said fair law enforcement of all citizens was necessary to reinstate the supremacy of the law.
“The uncertainty [of law enforcement] is behind this repeated violence because some groups try to take advantage of the situation.”
He said various sanctions might not affect perpetrators of violence, especially those citing religious motives.
However, Eko added, it was important to prevent others from joining in or copying the acts of violence.
“We should break the circle of violence, as it potentially creates another [circle of violence],” he added.
Eko said once perpetrators were punished, they could be rehabilitated to address their beliefs that justified their violent actions. (lnd)