Police to separate from Abri control

INDONESIA IN TRANSITION

However, it has not been decided which ministry the police force, which has long been a branch of the armed forces, will eventually come under.

THE national police will be separated from the Indonesian armed forces (Abri), military chief General Wiranto said yesterday.

Announcing this at a press conference, he said that the decision to separate the police was “in observance of national, regional and global developments in socio-political affairs”.

He said that the 177,000-strong police force, which has long been a branch of the armed forces, along with the army, navy and air force, would be placed under the Defence and Security Ministry from April.

He did not indicate, however, which government department the police would ultimately be responsible to.

“We are still studying this matter before coming up with something more definitive,” he said.

News reports yesterdayquoted him as saying that “after six months’ supervision by the defence ministry, there will be an evaluation as to whom the police will be subordinated to”.

He added that it would “either still be under the supervision of the Ministry of Defence and Security or the Ministry of Home Affairs”.

The President was another possibility.

A senior Abri officer in the Defence and Security Ministry told The Straits Times that the move to separate the police from Abri was good for the professional development of both forces.

“Internationally, the police units are perceived to be a non-combatant force.

“By becoming part of Abri, the line between combat and non-combat roles was blurred. That was not good for both Abri and the police.”

Sources in the police force said that it had been difficult for the police to develop independently given the “organic link” with Abri.

Given the conventional nature of other police outfits in the world, international acceptance of Indonesia’s police was often problematic.

Noted a police colonel: “It was difficult to take part in training programmes, for example, because we were not recognised.”

The senior Abri officer said that between now and April, senior police officers would have to look at restructuring their organisation.

“There will be a lot of questions to answer,” he said.

“Who will they report to? Will they have an assistant minister to represent their interests and determine policy?

“There are also questions about police doctrines and their training methods. Everything will have to change,” the Abri officer noted.

National police chief Lt-General Roesmanhadi told reporters after the announcement that the organisational structure of the police was now being reviewed.

He disclosed that the police were currently studying models from several countries, including the United States, England and the Philippines.

He also suggested that the ratio of police per head of population be increased from one policeman per 500 people to one per 300 people.

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