Maintaining safety, enforcing the law, protecting and service to the public have been the duties for The Indonesian National Police (Polri) as security officers. If the police are no longer carrying out their duties and obligations as they are supposed to, then it makes the public doubt the police.
Sadly, since there have been cases involving the police such as the Kanjuruhan tragedy, the shooting that killed a brigadier, and a drug case that involved a former police officer. All of this has caused a crisis of public confidence towards the government.
As reported by kompas.com, a survey done by Indikator Politik Indonesia showed that the level of public trust in the Indonesian National Police declined sharply in August 2022. As many as 37.7% of respondents considered the condition of law enforcement in Indonesia to be worse. Only 29.5% of respondents rated law enforcement conditions as good.
Then, how should the police uphold public order and enforce law so that people’s trust increases? Read this interview with Hasanuddin University Press (PK identitas Unhas) reporter, Miftah Triya Hasanah with Lecturer from Public Administration in Unhas and author of the book “Public Trust Dalam Pelayanan Publik: Konsep, Dimensi, dan Strategis”, Prof Dr Mohamad Thahir Haning, on Monday (13/3).
What do you think is the relationship between police work and public trust?
We must first understand what public trust is, the trust of the people towards the government, when they make a policy that is fair and pro-people’s interests, then public trust arises. This public trust is social capital.
If the public trust is high, the government will surely exist. Otherwise, if public trust drops, then authority is prone to crumble. If the police act according to their duty and function, the public can trust them. Instead of acting as the police of power.
What do you think about the loss of public trust in the Polri following the murders done by police officers?
What they did was in violation of the law, which is that the function of police that is to protect and enforce the law. The police should not take actions that violate the law, in the context of murder, or even fabricate cases, which is why they must be processed according to the law.
I think it is reasonable that the punishment imposed is appropriate, because according to the judge there is nothing that can lighten the sentence. As a police officer, they should act within the existing rules of law. If the police do things like that, it can lower public trust. Based on this case, if the leaders tell them to do something that violates the law, then the subordinate should not do it. Although there are risks that may occur, such as being disloyal to be dismissed. In fact, the term loyal to the leader must be in accordance with the duties and functions applicable regulations.
How do you bring back and increase public trust in the police?
As long as professionalism is still closely held by the police, acting by rules and being fair, the public will keep their trust. The police must act as protectors, safeguards, and provide services to the society in a fair manner such as public reports that must be followed up regardless of the person’s background, because unfair police behaviour lowers public trust.
In addition, improving the recruitment process. If the police want to create professional police officers who are smart and have integrity, they should try to imitate college students who are accepted by state universities (PTN) because those who passed must be smart. Secondly, in terms of position placement, it must be based on the competence, professionalism and integrity of the police, not the amount of money paid (bribe). In my opinion, public trust can be restored through behaviour that reflects a sense of fairness from police officers.
Are there any other effects or factors that have caused a decrease of public trust in the police besides the cases they were involved in?
If I take a look at the most crucial things at the moment that decrease public trust, it is in terms of law enforcement, illegal levies, and during police recruitment. People generally think that the police act unfairly, for example police officers who often act unfairly in providing services to the public, in this case the person who should be guilty is the person, not the institution. It cannot be generalised that the police institution did it because it will be reported as defamation. However, because there are many people who behave like that, it is generalised by the public to no longer trust the police.
Is the Indonesian National Police reforming?
If we take a look at the regulations, the reforms have been carried out for a long time but were not successful. It has been stated that the police have indeed reformed various regulations. However, the problem is the practice. For example, so far the reform of bureaucracy has been to create a professional police force, but there has been no enforcement, so there are actually improvements that have been made but they have not been successful.
Similarly, in our country, reforms have been carried out since 1998 but have failed, because the political will and political action of the government have never been in line with the demands of reform, as well as the police. So, in fact, if there is a regulation, it must be implemented. However, I see that now the Kapolri has begun to be more assertive. In the case of Brigadier J’s murder, many police officers have been sacked for their involvement in the case. That could also be one part of police reform. It means creating professional police who have the knowledge and skills as well as good attitudes and behaviour.
Name: Prof Dr Mohamad Thahir Haning MSi
Place and Date of Birth: Pangkep, 7 May 1957
S1 Public Administration Hasanuddin University (1977)
S2 Development Administration Hasanuddin University (1995)
S3 Public Administration Gadjah Mada University (2004)
Translator: Nabila Rifqah Awalauddin & Muhammad Alif M.