In an institution perceived to be corrupt, such as the National Police Force or Polri, the determination of its leaders to straighten their shortcomings is worthy of our support. They intend to improve its recruitment and promotion systems at all levels.
The public’s complaints about the many corrupt police officers could well be related to the graft-ridden selection and testing of new recruits. To quote a well-known adage, ‘garbage in, garbage out’. That is why Police Chief General Tito Karnavian’s determination is to improve the police’s human resources and that must begin with the proper selection of officers.
The method of training prospective police officers also needs improving. Several years ago, Tempo reported on the results of an investigation into the inhuman methods used in indoctrinating and cadre-forming exercises at the Police Academy in Semarang. Senior candidates at the academy even adopted sadistic techniques to abuse their juniors that were passed down from previous classes before them. They reasoned that the new recruits needed to be imbued with the right espirit d’corps and be mentally tough. However, such measures have proven that they tend to perpetuate a culture of violence.
The police also need to straighten out their system of promotion. To ensure that the organization becomes strong and professional, promotions and placing officers in certain positions must be based on a merit system. The right people must be placed at every level, which means selecting those with the appropriate competencies and those with good personality and character. The old culture of using promotions to make money by accepting bribes must be immediately stopped. There must no longer be any ‘deposits’ connected with position and placements.
Strategic positions that could be misused must be tightly watched and filled only by officers with an anti-corruption commitment. One such position is the chief of the career development bureau. In the past, officers filling it acted like a broker, extracting billions of rupiah in fees from officers seeking promotion.
The police could also collaborate with institutions such as the Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (PPATK) to monitor officers in their own environments. That institution has a capable system for detecting the bank accounts of government officials, including those of police officers.
The police’s intention to collaborate with other anti-corruption institutions is certainly encouraging. Through their own networks, we expect institutions such as the Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW) to help oversee the police force in the regions. Basically, no police officer should ever again have a ‘fat’ bank account without being able to fully account where the money come from.
Once all these systemic improvements are made, the final push needed will be the leaders’ commitment. Any good system is only useful if it is applied properly and consistently. It would be pointless to have improvements to the recruitment, promotion and supervision systems while at the end of the day, the police chief and other senior officers continue to adopt a cavalier attitude towards corruption.
Although they are still plans, any improvements to the police personnel recruitment system must be supported. At the very least, the police chief should be made accountable.