Police pledge to reduce crime across Bali

Police pledge to reduce crime across Bali

Bali Police chief Insp. Gen. Albertus Julius Benny Mokalu has pledged to improve security, by conducting regular operations and monitoring recidivists among other measures, to reduce crime on the island.

"We have optimized all efforts to prevent crimes. We conduct routine operations; we have priority targets, by for example monitoring recidivists. Based on criminology, perpetrators tend to repeat crimes," Benny told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.

Benny was speaking in response to community-based activism initiated by expatriates on the island to campaign for a safer Bali, after they were shocked by the death of 18-year-old Kim Eun-sol, a South Korean woman, who died in the course of a mugging on Jl. Teuku Umar Barat, Kerobokan, Badung.

Kim was on a motorcycle in the early hours of Saturday when she was attacked by thieves on two motorcycles who tried to steal her bag. As she attempted to defend herself and her bag, Kim fell off her bike and was hit by another bike traveling in the opposite direction. Police are still investigating the case, but have yet to find any leads.

A Facebook page, Stop attacks on women [or anyone] in Bali, was launched in the incident's aftermath. The group is planning to hold a memorial on May 26, as well as to speak up against the increasing violence on the resort island.

Another movement to campaign for a safer Bali, called Safer Bali Now, through the website saferbalinow.org, has been initiated by American resident Richard Gregory.

Gregory said his family had just moved to Bali recently and did not expect such tragic violence to occur here. "We came to enjoy the culture here, to introduce my children to another culture and another language and to become inspired by the surroundings," he said.

"Bali has an international reputation as a place of peace and harmony, but of course, like any place it has its problems. I just didn't anticipate that those problems would be so serious and affect innocent and vulnerable people," he stressed.

Frequently, he said, he would hear and read reports of robberies, rapes, motorbike purse snatches and other crimes. "And they weren't just happening in the 'bad' parts of town or to drunken tourists at night. They were happening to wonderful people, locals, expats and tourists and particularly to women," he said.

Gregory expressed his frustration over the situation, wondering how long it could continue. "Would it grow worse? Many people began to ask the same thing," he said.

He said he created a Facebook page and registered a domain name to build a website in one night in his fight against the rising violence.

Through the movement, Gregory said he planned to develop and implement strategies to build trust between community leaders, pecalang (traditional security officers), police, tourists and locals. "We cannot expect the police to solve all of our problems, particularly if we don't appreciate and don't trust that they have our best interests in mind."

"I would like to believe that if we can build a better relationship and offer our honest and open assistance, that these issues will begin to be solved," he said.

Benny said the police had been working hard to solve many crimes on the island, but needed the public to assist them.

He explained that his officers had just arrested a recidivist who had been breaking into cars. The suspect, identified as AK, was caught in Makassar, South Sulawesi, on Sunday.

AK allegedly committed 20 such robberies, most of which targeted foreigners at tourist locations such us Kuta and Ubud.

"Many of the criminals are recidivists, and most of them come from outside Bali. For example, in a vehicle theft, we found that the perpetrator was an old hand from Batam," he added.

However, Benny admitted that it was impossible to totally eradicate crime. "In any area or province, crime can never reach zero. It is impossible. Because of population growth, economic growth, social circumstances and many other things, of course, crimes will occur."

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