Who do you call?

Erna Mahyuni, The Malaysian Insider 

“Kami polis. Kami boleh tanya, tahan dan tangkap siapa saja.” (We’re policemen. We can interrogate, detain and arrest whomever.)

All M (she asked I not mention her name) wanted to know was why the two policemen on motorcycles were asking for her ID.

It was a rainy night, M was driving. She saw a motorcyclist in her way and honked. He might not have seen her; she just wanted to make sure. She was being careful, she thought.

The next thing M knew, two men on motorcycles were flanking her car.

One of them berated her for honking at him. She explained why she did so and also pointed out that she had right of way.

Again, he spouted the “I’m a cop and can arrest anyone” spiel.

She asked if she could call her friend, a senior police officer, for advice.

“Panggilah, saya takut apa?” (Call, then, what have I got to be afraid of?)

M called her friend. Her friend wanted the policemen’s names and numbers. And, suddenly, the “fearless” policemen were too afraid to identify themselves.

They lied to M’s friend on the phone, saying they only “wanted to help” her.

In the end, the policemen went away leaving a very shaken M.

M was lucky. Few of us can call up a senior ranked cop for help when being harassed by rogue members of the force.

Thing is, we shouldn’t even have to deal with it in the first place.

There are decent cops. I’ve met them. But at the same time, we’ve all heard the stories or encountered “bad cops.”

Cops who ask for bribes. Cops who steal. Cops who turn a blind eye to crime or pretend to be too busy with paperwork to attend to crime reports.

We are afraid of our policemen, for all the wrong reasons.

To be honest, they scare me too. I’ve gone to make a police report and was ignored by the cop on duty because he thought I was a Filipina. It took me brandishing my IC at him for him to take me seriously. Then there were the cops who wanted to solicit bribes from me or make me get in a police car, all because they mistook me for a foreign worker.

The cops need to be held accountable for the rogues in their ranks. They need to make it mandatory to show their identification numbers at all times.

If a cop refuses to give his name and ID numbers, it shouldn’t be a crime for a Malaysian to ignore him.

The reality is that there are cops who are bullies. But when a policeman asks you to pull over, don’t automatically assume he intends to harass you. Maybe your signal lights died. Your bumper or identification plate fell off. Give the policeman the benefit of the doubt.

But when it’s clear the “policeman” you’re dealing is problematic, here’s what you can do:

Read more at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/opinion/article/who-do-you-call/