Idham Azis attends a hearing at the House of Representatives in South Jakarta in November 2019. (SP Photo/Ruht Semiyono)

Lawmakers Urge Police to Collaborate With Government Agencies During Pandemic

BY :TARA MARCHELIN

APRIL 01, 2020

Jakarta. Lawmakers at the House of Representatives have urged the National Police to improve coordination with the government, the Covid-19 Task Force, the Military and other institutions involved in coronavirus mitigation in Indonesia. 

The House of Representatives' (DPR) Commission III chairman Herman Herry said the National Police should collaborate with the National Anti-Narcotics Agency (BNN) and the State Intelligence Agency (BIN) to track the movements of patients under observation (PDP) and people under surveillance (ODP) using the CDR Location System or Check Post System.

"Using personal data and cellphone numbers, the system can monitor the patients' movements, places they've visited, people they've met," Herman said in a teleconference with the National Police on Tuesday.

The commission said the National Police should also stop the proliferation of Covid-19 hoaxes and crack down on cybercrimes, looting and people hoarding food and personal protective equipment (APD).  

National Police Chief Idham Aziz said the police have already established several task forces to prevent these crimes from happening during the pandemic.

"We have a food task force to monitor staple food supply, a cyber task force to monitor hoaxes and cybercrimes and a special task force to monitor [the buying and selling of] medical equipment. All of them operate under the National Police's Criminal Investigation Unit (Bareskrim)," he said.

Idham said some robbers have taken advantage of the pandemic by going to people's houses wearing protective gear and pretending to be local authorities tasked with disinfecting their homes.

He also said the police still also have to keep an eye on other crimes as well, including terror attacks and drug smuggling.

"Even though our focus now is Covid-19 mitigation, the anti-narcotics task force and the anti-terror task force are still operating. Drug smugglers are still active on the east and west coasts of Kalimantan," he said.

The police's elite anti-terror unit Densus 88 recently also arrested alleged terrorists in the district of Batang in Central Java. 

No Physical Distancing in Prisons

A Commission III member from the National Democratic Party (NasDem), Taufik Basari, demanded the National Police give special attention to inmates in overcrowded prisons where they can't observe physical distancing.

Taufik said the police should separate the inmates according to their crimes.

"The police should separate inmates convicted for violent crimes, such as murder, rape and terrorism, from the petty criminals," he said during the teleconference.

Petty criminals could be put under house arrest, city arrest or released earlier to reduce overcapacity in the country's prisons, Taufik said.

"During this pandemic, police should be more selective on who they should arrest. It should be the last option," Taufik said.

According to Idham, detention and arrest have always been the last option for law enforcers.

"In fact, the Justice and Human Rights Minister has asked for President Joko Widodo's permission to release 30,000 petty criminals from prison during this pandemic," he said. 

Persuasive Approach

Idham said the National Police have launched a "Sympathy Operation" to persuade people to observe physical distancing and cancel their Idul Fitri exodus plan. 

Nevertheless, police officers are at the ready to safeguard people during the exodus if the government in the end decides to allow it. 

Idham said people disobeying the government's physical distancing order during the pandemic could be charged under the 1984 Law on Plague or Infectious Disease, the 2018 Law on Health Quarantine and several articles of the Criminal Code. 

"However, we've not charged anyone yet. Our approach remains a persuasive and humanistic one. We apologize that in some regions police officers have taken repressive actions. We don't condone them," Idham said.

The National Police have also put two hundred police officers at each Regional Police headquarters around the country and four battalions of officers at the National Police headquarters in Jakarta ready for Covid-19 contingency operations.

"The officers will be equipped with personal protective equipment in case they have to be deployed in operations involving Covid-19 patients. This is what we call Contingency Operation," Idham said.

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