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We must condemn attacks on our police

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Police officers have special responsibilities in society, responsibilities with which they are solemnly invested, to protect and serve the people of the country and to uphold law and order. We expect them to discharge their duties “without fear or favour”, and to receive fair and just treatment at their hands. In particular, citizens are quite vocal in insisting on humane treatment from police officers and an end to the brutality which has historically tarnished the reputation of the Police Service and validates the name of Police “Force”.{{more}}

In recent times a number of police officers have themselves fallen foul of the law and been charged with serious offences, including the use of unwarranted force against civilians. Such breaches of the law are a blot on the image of the Police Service and it is commendable that those perpetrators have been prosecuted, giving a clear message that no one is above the law and that the police must stay within the confines of the law in the execution of their duties.

Though such prosecution is welcome, there is still dissatisfaction that there are still too many instances of police officers overstepping boundaries and abusing the rights, and person, of citizens. This has led to some anti-police sentiment in some segments of the population, a trend that is not at all a positive one. Some even go to the extreme in advocating hostility against police officers.

Yet, police officers are human like us. They have a job which can be perilous at times, having to place their lives, and even the safety of their families on the line in their protective role. One can only imagine, in a world and society where so much violence and lawlessness abound, what would be the situation if we did not have the protective arm of the law. Persons would feel free to impose their will on others and violate human rights with impunity.

It is all the more reason why we should abhor the recent fatal stabbing of a young police officer and strongly condemn all such acts. We offer our sincerest condolences to his family. Fortunately that concern is shared by most citizens. However, there are those among us who have demonstrated insensitivity in comments about the situation. Whatever the misdemeanours of some in the service of the law, there must not and cannot be any justification for such criminal assault on our upholders of law and order.

We cannot demand humane treatment by police on the one hand, and not fail to equally demand similar humane treatment of them by citizens. Our police officers must be given full respect in the conduct of their duties and we must see any such attacks against them as an attack on the institution itself, as well as an assault on law and order.

We cannot expect police officers to place their lives on the line to uphold law and order, and to protect us and our property and not ensure that they too are respected and protected in the execution of their duties. Theirs is high risk employment and if we do not move to firmly come down on the side of law and order, we risk degenerating into instability, lawlessness and wanton violence.

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