Indonesian police study thug operations

The Jakarta Police are studying the work of thugs in the city to formulate effective strategies for the eradication of their operations in order to maintain the capital's security and order.

"We need a gradual process to eradicate thuggery in Jakarta. The first step of the process is to get a comprehensive understanding of thugs' operations," said city police spokesman Sr. Comr. Rikwanto on Thursday.

He said that the operations of thugs have disturbed Jakartans' sense of security although there were possibilities of mutual dependence between thugs and their social environment.

"Recently we received a report about a group of thugs who allegedly extorted money from drivers of container trucks queuing to get into the Tanjung Priok port in North Jakarta," Rikwanto said.

However, he acknowledged, some residents took advantage from the operations of thugs.

"For example, we found that some non-formal workers asked local thugs to guard their kiosks," he said.

He said that the city police would create a programme based on the study to prevent thugs from disrupting social order.

Since the beginning of Ramadhan, the city police have conducted crackdowns on thugs to ensure the city's security during the fasting month.

In the first six days of the fasting month, the police have arrested 311 men suspected of thuggery in Jakarta and its satellite cities.

However, the police have set 207 of the suspects free because the former could not find any evidence that the latter got involved in any criminal activities.

"We are arresting only suspects who, at the time of arrest, were carrying sharp weapons or committing crimes like extorting money from residents," city police crime sub-directorate chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Herry Heryawan told The Jakarta Post in a phone interview. Meanwhile, he said, the police counseled those who were not involved in crimes to avoid thuggery.

"The men often hang out with thugs and we try to prevent them from becoming thugs themselves," he said, adding that the police created a database containing their profiles for monitoring purposes.

He said the police kept tracking these men to ensure that they would not get involved in any criminal activities.

He acknowledged that various economic problems in the city caused the emergence of thuggery.

"People become thugs because they don't have access to decent jobs. So they use violence and force to earn money," Herry said.

He said that his division was constantly monitoring reports from the city's police sub-precinct offices on violence cases involving thugs.

"We want to make Jakarta a safe place. We will not allow thugs to disrupt the city's safety, let alone control a particular area by collecting illegal levies or extorting residents," he said.