Jakarta. Newly-appointed National Police Chief Listyo Sigit Prabowo on Wednesday promised a deeper role by his institution to enforce health protocols amid the devastating coronavirus outbreak that has infected over a million people and killed more than 28,500 others in the country.
Describing public safety as the “supreme law”, Listyo said police involvement in imposing public health orders shouldn’t be disputed.
“We will be carrying out duties of enforcing the health protocols concerning the Covid-19 pandemic,” Listyo said shortly after being inaugurated as the country’s 25th police chief at the State Palace in Central Jakarta.
“We will take measures to increase public compliance to health protocols because for us public safety is the supreme law,” he added.
It’s up to regional governments to regulate public health orders concerning Covid-19 but nearly all provinces have mandated face covering while in public.
There are different rules on social restrictions among provinces, with fines becoming the most frequently used enforcement tool.
Police have come under public scrutiny after it killed six Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) members last month in their attempts to take the hardline group leader, Rizieq Syihab, for a questioning on health protocol violation charges.
Rizieq was summoned twice by the police after he held a wedding party for a daughter and led several public gatherings in November.
The incident occurred on Dec. 7 when a police car chasing a vehicle convoy carrying Rizieq was intercepted by FPI members in two cars, leading to the deadly shootout.
Rizieq turned himself in to the Jakarta Police on Dec. 12 and has since been detained.
Listyo, 51, replaces Idham Aziz who reaches retirement age at the end of this month.
For many, it comes to no surprise that Listyo becomes the president’s sole pick for the top post of the National Police. Listyo served as the district police chief in Solo when Jokowi was the mayor of the Central Java town in 2011.
He has also served as an assistant of the president.
A 1991 graduate of the Police Academy, Listyo became the first from his class to become a brigadier general when he was promoted as the provincial police chief in Banten in October 2016.
Within three years, he rose through the ranks to become the Criminal Investigation Agency head as a commissioner general.