By Francis N. Tolentino
The increasing number of police officers dragged and actually involved in unlawful activities has once again caught the public’s critical eyes. Recent news in radio, television and print told about cops involved in abuse of authority, arrogance, or other felonies. While this may not be the first time that some of our law enforcers were dragged into issues such as corruption and drugs, the problem is highlighted by the irony of police officers violating the same rules they have been tasked to enforce, thus undermining President Duterte’s sincere campaign for positive change in society.
Noticeable as well is the greater number of newly installed police officers committing crimes related to drugs, extortion, abuse of authority, kidnapping, and carnapping, among others, as compared to policemen who have been in the service for a considerable number of years. This is perhaps the reason behind Senator Panfilo Lacson’s filing of Senate Bill 1898 placing police education and training under the supervision of the Philippine National Police (PNP). In the current set up, the Philippine Public Safety College trains and educates police aspirants through the Philippine National Police Academy and the National Police Training Institute. When ratified, Senate Bill 1898 will place upon the PNP the full responsibility to produce a new breed of police officers who are not only physically fit and strong but are more patriotic, faithful to their pledge to protect public safety and order, and who are morally upright even amidst the temptations of money and power.
I would also like to put forward a proposition which I think will complement the objectives of Senator Lacson’s Senate Bill 1898. I would like to propose that police recruits who have completed the required education and training be placed under probationary status for a period of two years. This will be a time within which they shall be considered as rookie cops and will be teamed with police officers of senior rank who will guide and instruct the neophyte police on the realities of law enforcement. I would like to also suggest that the uniforms of these rookie cops be distinguished from the uniforms of our regular law enforcers so as to also inform the public that they are still serving their probationary years. With their status revealed to the public, these rookie cops will more likely be prudent in their speech and actions as anything they say or do that go against public interest can cause their dismissal from the service.
With this proposal, I only intend to develop in these rookie cops the habit of always choosing what is right and what is just at all times. If these young law enforcers have developed the habit of choosing and doing what is good from the beginning of their lives as police officers, they will adhere to these values until they retire and perhaps even beyond. Only in this way, I think, will we be able to establish a police force that is truly dependable and worthy of public trust.