Police abuse a serious problem

Editorial

POLICE abuse is a serious problem.
It has a long history, and it seems to defy all attempts at eradication.
The problem is national: No police station in the country is known to be completely free of misconduct.
We’d like to see that this situation is not hopeless. Policing has seen progress in some areas.
Today, among both officials and rank and file officers, it is widely recognised that police brutality hinders good law enforcement.
This week, Apec joint security taskforce deputy commander (police) Naua Vanuawaru called on the public to report assault by police officers assigned to Apec security work.
The public should understand that there is a pathway to hold officers accountable for their actions and the people should not be afraid to use it.
A standard police procedure is when a complaint has been lodged at the police station against a police officer who has broken the law, the police station commander or officer in charge will formally charge the officer under the country’s law.
Many victims are afraid of retaliation and some are reluctant report as they view the process too tedious, going here and there and then not knowing the progress of the investigation or how to do a follow-up.
The complaint should be supported with medical reports and, importantly, eyewitness statements.
All police departments have methods of taking complaints against police officers from members of the public. Usually these complaints are referred to as internal affairs complaints, which are investigated by other police officers.
There are positive and negative aspects of internal complaints.
Filing an internal complaint is the only avenue that can lead to a police officer being disciplined or dismissed for misconducts.
The standard practice is even if an internal complaint is not sustained, it usually stays in the officer’s personnel file.
In a properly run police department, the fact that an officer has attracted many complaints should trigger closer scrutiny.
A complaint is supposed to put the police department on notice of a police officer’s behaviour.
Because police officers work on the street, supervisors do not know how an officer interacts with the public unless members of the public provide feedback.
We note that the negative aspects of internal complaints are that much of the investigation is kept secret from the person who complained.
The public should know the procedures involved in reporting police misconduct, so they understand what happens.
The public should know the internal process that takes place after a report has been filed.
Most victims seek justice through the media as it is their only hope of finding out what has happened to their case.
Others see the media as their only hope because once the story is published, the pressure is on internal affairs to investigate. Using the media also keeps the issue in the public domain and stops anyone from being able to sweep it under the carpet.

Leave a Reply