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Government to recruit 25,000 additional police personnel

Jakarta Post - July 26, 2012

Jakarta – The government says that it expects to recruit 20,000 to 25,000 more police officers, half of whom will be trained later this year.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said that additional personnel would be needed to deal with greater security threats in the form of communal conflicts in the country.

"I have instructed the National Police to educate and train them well. The National Police can use more personnel to anticipate, prevent and stop communal conflicts," Yudhoyono said on Wednesday.

As of 2011, Indonesia had 387,470 police officers for its nearly 230 million citizens for a ratio of one police officer per 600 people. Experts say an ideal ratio is one police officer for every 400 citizens.

Yudhoyono acknowledged that 25,000 personnel would add a significant burden to the state budget but made his expectations clear that the new officers would be used to enforce the law professionally, especially in handling communal conflicts and street brawls.

At least 18 violent demonstrations and 62 street brawls occurred in several regions in the country in the first semester of this year.

This year alone, the police have been involved in excessive use of force in places like Papua, as well as in Bima, West Nusa Tenggara and in Mesuji, Lampung. The police were also seen as powerless in dealing with attacks against minority groups like the Shiites in Madura and Ahmadiyah followers in West Java.

"In dealing with unrest, don't talk about who will take the blame. Stop the rioting and violence first," Yudhoyono said, adding that the police must be able to prevent the loss of lives in every conflict.

The National Police has also been criticized recently for its failure to uphold discipline among members of the corps.

Indonesian Police Watch (IPW) reports an increasing number of police personnel dismissals, which it says is a reflection of worsening police behavior. IPW says that 429 police were dismissed in 2009. This number decreased to 294 in 2010 but jumped even higher in 2011 to 474.

So far this year, 12,987 police personnel have violated the National Police code of conduct – a number IPW fears may only be the tip of the iceberg. The police also stand accused of acts of violence including shootings and excessive force. In 2011, IPW says that police shot 97 innocent civilians. Of these, 19 were killed.

Eighteen cases of police brutality involving 34 officers have been brought forward so far in 2012. Eight of these cases were related to the misuse of weapons. Ten were torture cases. (cor)