Seeking a few good men in blue

Police at the site of the murder of Arab Malaysian Banking Group founder Hussain Ahmad Najadi in Kuala Lumpur.

Lately, the country has been abuzz about crime, especially after the spate of gun violence, including the murder of Arab Malaysian Bank founder Hussain Ahmad Najadi and the attempted murder of MyWatch chairman R. Sri Sanjeevan.

Many have opined that guns for hire are freely roaming our streets while former detainees and restricted residents released after the repeal of the Emergency Ordinance are the ones responsible for the increasing crime rate.

Politicians have also joined the loud chorus of people, including former servicemen, demanding the reinstatement of a new "preventive law" which they hope will help resolve this problem.

But are preventive laws alone enough to resolve the country's escalating crime problem? Is recruiting thousands of new policemen and stationing them on the streets on flashy motorcycles and in patrol cars the way to combat crime?

Why is it that the public seems to feel that our men in blue are not doing enough or incapable of tackling crime?

Are criminals getting bolder or are the police just losing their bite?

It has been slightly over two months since Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar assumed duties as the country's 10th Inspector-General of Police.

The time has come for the 112,000-strong police force to undergo a massive shake-up, including the movement of state police chiefs, officers in charge of police districts (OCPDs), state CID chiefs, district CID chiefs and even officers in charge of police stations.

The force has eight commissioners, 14 state police chiefs, 14 state CID chiefs, 148 OCPDs, 148 district CID chiefs and 837 police station chiefs nationwide.

No major shake-up has taken place in the police force in at least four years or more.

It is time that Khalid takes drastic action to regain police glory - going back to the basics of fighting crime and gathering intelligence on crime networks.

To achieve this, the IGP has to put the right man in the right job.

All departments related to any form of investigation, mainly CID, commercial crime, traffic and narcotics, need to be beefed up.

Investigation is pivotal to not only reduce crime but also putting the fear of being caught in criminals.

It is an open secret that many CID personnel in the past were transferred to the General Operations Force or other departments when there was the slightest allegation of wrongdoing.

Even officers trained as anti-gambling experts, investigating officers and officers who opened case files against certain bad hats have not been spared from sudden transfer orders.

Assigning officers without CID experience will only hamper investigations as it will take time for them to learn the ropes before they can provide guidance to their subordinates.

The police cannot afford such delay as tens of thousands of new cases are being opened every year.

Slipshod investigations will eventually lead to poor prosecution and the acquittal of suspects or the file closed due to insufficient evidence.

The police need to understand that when a person lodges a report, he either wants his lost or stolen item recovered and the perpetrator arrested and charged in court.

Public confidence in the police force greatly depends on how well and effective an investigation is conducted.

Gang-related and syndicate-related crimes cut across racial boundaries.

It will also be ideal to assign Indian officers to check on gangsterism in the community as they will find it easier to cultivate sources, gather information or empathise with the victim compared with those from other races.

The time has come for the police leadership to form a special committee to look into streamlining manpower to avoid wastage of skills.

It's time to locate and identify all the sincere, dedicated and honest policemen who are serving in obscure units within the force.

Strict and no-nonsense officers such as Comm Datuk Noor Rashid Ibrahim, known to have come down hard on investigating officers who carry out shoddy investigations and have personally gone through investigating papers, should be brought back to the CID.

Policemen who are complacent and incompetent should be removed immediately and not promoted.

The police's mata-mata or detective unit should also be revamped to ensure they are always on the ground to gather intelligence on crime syndicates, mafia bosses and gangsters.

They should be monitored closely to produce tangible results or else be removed for non-performance and replaced by committed personnel.

In formulating new laws, a mechanism of proper checks and balances has to be considered to prevent abuses.

Lastly, the police should also be bold enough to partner with a local university and carry out a survey to find out how they fare in society and get feedback on their performance and ideas on how to improve, similar to what has been done in Johor.

The new Johor state government under Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin is collaborating with Universiti Teknologi Malaysia to carry out a three-month survey dubbed "Suara Hati Johor" to get public feedback, response and comments.

Hopefully, with these bold measures, especially getting the right man for the right job, the country's crime problems can be better tackled.