Police will apply a 'counterflow' road detour – allowing cars to go the wrong way – on the Cawang-Semanggi toll road during construction of a Light Rail Transit, or LRT, track and an overpass in Pancoran on Jalan M.T. Haryono in South Jakarta. (Antara Photo/Wahyu Putro A.)

Crime-Fighting Measures in Jakarta Take a Modern Twist on Classics


FEBRUARY 03, 2015

[This story was first published at 5:53 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2015, and this update includes additional details and a change in the headline]

Jakarta. Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama says he has launched a number of programs aimed at reducing the capital’s crime rate, ranging from ongoing installation of 2,500 CCTV cameras and an Android app for crime prevention.

The Safe Cities Index by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) put Jakarta at the bottom of a list of 50 international cities.

The report measured the relative level of safety in four broad categories: digital security, health security, infrastructure security, and personal safety.

Some 44 metrics were used in the survey, which included cities such Bangkok, Hong Kong, New York and Rio de Janeiro.

Basuki said he was aware of the high crime rate in Jakarta, vowing to deploy the “three-pillar” crime prevention units — consisting of ward officers, public order officers and members of ward military units — to tackle crime in the city.

“Last year we formed the ‘three pillars’ of a sort,” the governor said on Tuesday after a meeting with the Jakarta Police at the latter’s headquarters in Central Jakarta.

“We’ve also installed CCTV. We want the CCTV to be able to capture [car] number plates and faces. We’re working on this. By the end of the year, 2,500 CCTV cameras will probably have been installed.”

He added the Jakarta administration was developing “Jakarta Smart City,” an Android smartphone app which can transmit distress signals to security officers when needed.

“So if you’re in danger, you can simply send [a distress signal]. Public order officers stationed at the nearest ward office will receive the signal, which indicates a security problem,” Basuki said.

“The application is being developed.”

He said he was also addressing the root of the crime problems, identifying low income and poverty.

Citing data from the Central Statistics Agency (BPS), Basuki said between 15 and 20 percent of Jakarta residents earned less than Rp 2.4 million ($189) a month.

“A single person living in Jakarta needs at least Rp 2.4 million [a month]. You can imagine people who earn Rp 2.4 million but have two or three kids; they can surely be tempted to do an armed robbery to get money.”

He added the Jakarta administration would disburse Rp 1.7 trillion this year to finance the Jakarta Smart Card program, in which school students in the capital will receive between Rp 200,000 and Rp 800,000 a month for school costs.

Furthermore, the Jakarta administration would continue to build low-cost apartments to host low-income people, especially in densely populated areas. This year, the target is to build a total of 7,200 low-cost apartment units.

“We’ll tidy up slum areas we can’t control, while normalizing rivers, dams and build roads [to inspect canals and irrigation networks],” Basuki said.

He added his administration would improve databases of Jakartans in need by deploying heads of neighborhoods and community units to identify those who qualify for assistance.

“I’ve issued a gubernatorial regulation for this. Unscrupulous neighborhood and community unit heads will be fired. We need those who really care, so they will know who really need helps,” Basuki said.

Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Martinus Sitompul acknowledged the high crime rate in the capital, calling on residents to help police tackle the problem.

In addition to the capital, Jakarta Police also cover Bekasi, Tangerang and Depok. According to data from Jakarta Police, there are 54 places which have a high crime rate across its jurisdiction. Out of those, 38 are found in Jakarta.

“We have readied 300 detectives to patrol those places,” Martinus said.

Earlier, several high-ranking police officers disputed the report from Economist Intelligence Unit.

“We just caught four rearview window thieves in West Jakarta a few days ago,” said Jakarta Police Chief Insp. Gen. Unggung Cahyono.

The criteria used by the EIU report looks at everything from pedestrian friendliness of the streets to the percentage of computers infected with malware — two categories in which Jakarta was never likely to have fared well.

Other factors such as the percentage of people living in slums and access to clean water were priced into the overall calculation.

The Jakarta Police chief was, however, more keen to talk about robust policing in Southeast Asia’s largest city.

“We use more than four indicators. We also use conventional crime, such as vehicle theft, transnational crime such as drug smuggling, crime against the state …” Unggung said on Friday.

The police said that, from their point of view, Jakarta should serve as a model for safety to its regional peers.

“Other countries can look up to us,” he said.  “Today during night patrols, I can see people are still gathering in the Old Town area at 3 a.m. It means it is still safe.”

Before the release of the report, Jakarta police had made a series of arrests against groups suspected to commit street crimes.

Over the weekend, 114 people described as “thugs” were arrested across North Jakarta. The week before more than 300 people were detained in a wave of enforcement against vigilantism. Two weeks earlier, police arrested more than 800 people in a crackdown on street crimes.

Further coverage

Editorial: Basuki Will Do What the Police Won’t