Lucia M. Hipolito

“The average citizen expects the policeman to have the wisdom of Solomon, the courage of David, the strength of Samson, the patience of Job, the leadership of Moses, the faith of Daniel, the diplomacy of Lincoln, the tolerance of the Carpenter of Nazareth, the kindness of the Good Samaritan, and finally an intimate knowledge of every branch of a natural biological and social science. If he possesses all these qualities, then, he might be a good policeman. This is often quoted and verbalized by August Volmer on the rigors of police work.

If this is the meter stick used for measuring the tailoring of a policeman then no one would like to dressed up in the police uniform.

The people who came from the different walks of life who encountered different situations with the man in uniforms identify a policeman as a composite of what all men are. A mingling of saint and sinners, dust and dirty. And what is policeman made of? He of all man is at one the most needed and the most unwanted, a strangely nameless creature who is “sin” to his face – and “pig” to his back. In an instant he must make decisions which require months for a lawyer. But if he hurries – he’s careless. If he’s deliberate – he’s lazy. The policeman must know every gun – draw on the run – and hit where it doesn’t hurt. He must be able to whip two men his size and half his age, without damaging his uniform and without being brutal. If you hit him – he’s a coward however if he hits you – he’s a bully.

What a predicament! And yet a policeman has to face all of these in his everyday life.

A distinguished criminologist and law enforcer administrator once pointed out “the community expects a police officer to have a mind of a lawyer, the soul of a clergyman the heart of a social worker, the discipline of an army sergeant, and the integrity of a saint. He must believe in a community of law, while seeing a lot of lawlessness; believe in the goodness of men, while seeing man most often at his worst; work in a community of men who resent his presence but depend on his faithfulness; know his jurisdiction like a sociologist, and he must understand people like a psychologist. He must take the long view of life like a philosopher.

And what is the view of the philosopher about men in uniform? The poor police officer was compared to a donkey and his life to a carrot…

It is said that the donkey walks forward if he is motivated. And the donkey is motivated by only two things: a stick on his backside or a carrot in front of his face. The donkey as you all know, does not only have a hard skin, he is also hard headed so they say just like other police officers.

The donkey will move in order to avoid the stick, it also moves in order to nibble the carrot. In the same way, a policeman takes orders from his superiors, if he did not obey, then he would get the stick, if he avoided the stick then he would not have the pleasure of tasting the carrot.

Philosophers refer to the stick as the symbol of pain. Man does not want pain and he will do anything to avoid it. And if he cannot avoid it – he is a weakling. On the other hand, philosophers refer to the carrot as a symbol of pleasure; Man will do anything and everything to acquire it. In fact he will sell his soul in order to derive and detain his pleasures and so they called it “The Carrot of Life…”

But the real reality of life is that images created in the minds of the people as far as police officers are concerned would have been comic were they not real. The police officers’ image could change given proper motivation and encouragement. Amidst the crises that policeman are facing, they still stand a chance. In a world of automation and cyberspace, many policemen still do not see the challenges of their jobs. Thus, they fail to excel. They are afraid to succeed, they are afraid to make their mark. This kind of helplessness makes life dangerously timid and meaningless. In short they view life as worthless. Not because of crises but there are just too many of them. And men in uniforms hurt too. For many policemen, life has become a boring routine, there is simply no sense for them to start again from scratch. They simply have lost the moral courage to build something uniquely good, true and beautiful.

Before we lay finger on them and judge them, let us try and understand the Police System, itself and the role of the Policeman.

A Policeman in his own unique way is expected to work 24 hours a day and put his life in the line if necessary notwithstanding the fact that he lacks the equipage: firearms, vehicles, radios and forensic equipment which causes a severe handicap in performing his job well. It is sad to note also that the policemen are among the lowest paid in our government bureaucracy. This is one of the unfortunate reasons why there is a never-ending incidence of the good cops arresting the bad cops who chose to deviate from the straight and narrow path of good public service. Adding insult to this injury is the consistent bashing and lambasting they get from the mass media day in and day out which somehow dampens the spirit of the police force.

It is in the light that “The Police 2000” was put into an Act. The PNP’s birth paved the way to an improved police service. The essence and purpose of the Police 2000 designed to streamline, modernize and to some extent reinvent the PNP to make it responsive to the changing times.

Briefly, Police 2000, as each letter connotes dwells on the PNP’s program to accomplish the following: Prevention and suppression of crimes through community oriented policing system, Order, maintenance, peacekeeping and internal security. Law enforcement without fear or favor. Image, credibility and community support, Coordination with the government agencies and Efficiency and effectivity in the development and management of Human and material resources. This is the vision of every Police which was put into test several times in the past and still in the present time, despite improvement in public perception, the PNP is still regarded by the public in the negative way as a protection of the people and guardian of public safety.

Admittedly, such public perception is unfair and unjust the majority of PNP personnel are honest, dedicated and hardworking public servants. They do not deserve this harsh treatment. Indeed, no amount of public denial on the part of the PNP will change the current public attitude. Neither will an organized media public campaign do it. I believe the best way to reverse the negative public perception is to counter it with credible performance.

Needless to say, if people and the community expect the Police officer to be peace agents then by all means, they must keep vigil and vigilance over them. They must also have a correct understanding and realistic expectation that a Policeman is not a superman, neither he is a Batman, nor an Atlas upon whose shoulders the world of cares and crutches rests. But rather the Police is like the element of water, He seeks his own level and cannot rise higher than its sources and these sources come in many forms. In short Great Policemen are not created in a day. They are products of caring parents, loving homes, responsible friends, concerned communities and great leaders for whom they follow orders in an effective system which is also affective and credible. A system that proclaim the truth, have the moral courage to embrace sanctity of life, sincerity of purpose, respect for others and unity with the whole. By then, we could still expect more men in uniforms, not just men, but Good Men In Uniforms.

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