Jakarta – The Jakarta Police shot 191 suspected criminals for various reasons in 1998, killing 90 of them, but its chief said the action was justified in every incident.
"The officers had no choice but to fire as the suspects were either endangering the lives of the victims or attacking the officers," Maj. Gen. Noegroho Djajoesman told a news conference last week reviewing the 1998 police log.
Twelve suspected criminals lost their lives to lynchings by mobs. A further 21 were wounded, Noegroho said. Admonishing the public for taking the law into their own hands, he said suspected criminals should be handed over to law enforcement officers. "Such efforts (mob justice) are totally against the law."
During the corresponding period five police officers died in the line of duty, he said. Fifty others were seriously injured and another 62 slightly wounded.
Noegroho also reported that his strong force of about 15,000 officers in Greater Jakarta netted 2,621 criminals in their routine Thunder Operation last year. The number includes 86 students involved in street brawls and 58 drug-related suspects, he said.
Internally, the Jakarta Police punished 50 officers for various offenses. Four of them were demoted. Honored were 102 personnel for outstanding performance and public service, he said.
The city police, whose jurisdiction covers Tangerang, Bekasi and Depok, recorded 177 drugs cases with 215 suspects including 10 foreigners. Confiscated evidence included 3.7 kilograms of heroin, 44.9 kilograms of marijuana and 2.7 kilograms of amphetamine-derivative shabu-shabu, 38,090 Ecstasy pills along with 27.8 kilograms of its raw materials, and 19,504 barbiturate pills, Noegroho said. A FN 22 gun and a pen gun were also seized together with nine machines to produce the Ecstasy pills, he added.
Notorious street crimes in 1998 included 32 robberies of bank customers, and 29 cases involving taxi drivers, he said. Out of the 32 robberies against bank customers, only 12 cases could be solved by the police by arresting 23 suspects, he said.
Although not touching on the infamous Trisakti shooting incident of May and the Black Friday tragedy at the Semanggi cloverleaf in November, Noegroho listed major riots, including the two which ensued from the shooting incidents.
During the May 13 to May 15 riots, police arrested 1,919 suspected looters. Fifty-four were arrested during the Nov. 14 unrest. Of the May looters, 336 suspects were tried and the remainder released. Of the November number, 50 went to court and four were released. Noegroho did not disclose when or where the trials were held.
There were 115 student brawls in 1998 in which 16 teenagers were killed and 76 others sustained either serious or minor injuries. Of the 1,476 students detained, only 73 would be tried.
Many adult Jakartans also chose to settle their conflicts on the streets. Police, he said, dealt during the year with at least 16 clashes between neighboring residents, mostly in densely populated areas in Central Jakarta. "In general, they were only sparked by misunderstandings," Noegroho said.
At the end of his presentation, Noegroho appealed to city dwellers from all walks of life to work together to secure the capital, particularly for the momentous general election in June. "I hope that Jakartans will not be easily provoked and divided by those who intend to separate this nation," the twostar general said.