If I were the police chief…

Mohamad Tajuddin Mohamad Rasdi
Jul 2, 2013

COMMENT Perhaps now that a minister’s house and the house of several ministers’ relatives have been broken into, the leaders should now know how ineffective our police force has become in relation to crime and public welfare.

I would not like to mince words but speak directly on what the police should do … if they are interested in public welfare at all. Even if they are not, they, police personnel are also subject to these crimes when they live outside quarters – such as those where I myself grew up.

So, if I were the chief of police, these are the things I would do.

Firstly, I would recognise that the first line of defence against crime is not to increase the number of police personnel, CCTVs or gated communities, or to deport all migrant workers.

The most tried of defences is the knowledge of crime patterns. If the people know how many crimes were committed and these are analysed, then it is extremely easy to protect against such incidents. I will elaborate in due course.

Secondly, I would tell my personnel to get ‘down and dirty’ with the communities they serve. They should not just drive or ride around and then stop for roti canai or nasi lemak, but should interact more with the communities they are supposed to serve. How? Well …patience dear readers and read on.

For the first principle or strategy, that of getting knowledge about patterns of crime to the public, these are what I would suggest if I were the police chief.

I would engage some bright and crusading academic who is interested in conducting research on patterns of criminal offences in housing. This should be done for the sake of society’s welfare and not to fulfill the public university’s insatiable hunger for Scopus journal papers.

I would request that the Finance Ministry approves an adequate grant to let this academic and his team of students swim through all the data on crime and housing, and come up with books, media articles and even television documentaries on how to protect people against break-ins, burglaries, snatch-and-slash thefts in front of house gates, car thefts, kidnap and rape.

This academic will probably tell you that it is very simple to design a terrace house with proper window details, roof construction and door fixtures. Surveillance cameras will not be needed once it is ascertained how criminals break in by fiddling with construction weak spots.

The academic will also probably tell you it is easy to plan the distribution of houses and public spaces, as well as community buildings, that would deter crimes through visual and social surveillance once it is verified that criminals choose particular houses because they are in the ‘blind spots’ of the visual surveillance concept.

Where are the books that explain to planners and architects how to design and plan housing estates? Where are the books to inform houseowners about construction technique to be used in installing security grilles and other features? Where are the media articles or television programmes that would enlighten us? Tak ada! Zip!

Why are the police so reluctant to open up their data bank on reports of crimes and statistical information on crime and housing? Is it because they are afraid to show that there is so much crime that people would think that Malaysia is an unsafe country?

Well, I have news for the police force – the people already know that we are living in an unsafe country with a police force of questionable leadership.

Crimes against women drivers

As chief of police, I would invite other crusading academics to sift through patterns of crime outside of housing areas that would help protect our children, friends, parents and ourselves.

My first focus would be on crimes against women drivers. The modus operandi seems to be to get a women to stop, and then rob or rape her.

I have heard stories of someone bumping the rear end of a woman’s car and pretend to settle the insurance information. I have heard of fake accidents and appealing to the women’s maternal instinct. I have even heard of criminals stopping cars, pretending that they were plainclothes police personnel.

As a father of three daughters, I will tell you how hard it is to tell modern women drivers not to drive alone at night if possible, and not to stop for strangers asking things. If there were several cases documented in a book or an article, it would make convincing them easier – wouldn’t it?

If I were the police chief, I would not only allow other academics to browse through all the police reports made, but to arrange interviews with criminals serving their terms.

The prisoners will be offered a shorter term if they provide true and important information about how they would survey a victim or a house, make their attacks and arrange a smooth getaway.

The academic will verify all statements by conducting interviews with inmates of various prisons to ensure that the data is sound, and not made up, before recommending a shorter term of punishment.

After all the research and publications are done, I would request these crusading academics to train my police personnel to give talks to the public and hold exhibitions on methods of break- in and other crimes, so that the public and children can take precautions.

Second strategy

For the next strategy, I would require close interaction between the police and the community they serve.

A few police personnel would man every medium-size housing estate (say, a maximum of 1,000 units).

They would be housed in a specially designed structure located strategically in a housing estate, such that they would get the maximum visual surveillance aided with a few well placed CCTV networks.

What’s that? We do not have the manpower? We do not have money? Excuse me. Just pull out all those Special Branch details that go around spying on crusading academics and NGO personalities.

Or upgrade half of the Federal Reserve Unit to police constable since, after so many 505 demonstrations, we have not seen violent incidents. Or appoint Rela personnel as community constables. These constables must make friends with the community to the point that they would know if there were any new tenants renting a house that seem suspicious.

One method that criminals use is to rent an apartment or a house for a few months to help them suss out potential victims and house targets. After carrying out robberies, they move to another housing estate. If we have police constables who know community members, these people who intend harm and crime could be easily singled out.

So there you have it. My personal programme for the police … if I were the chief of police.

A word to the government: in choosing a police chief, get someone who actually cares about the public and not those who promote him or her to the position. Get one who views the public as not some strangers but could be one of his or her children or close relative.

And while you’re at it, get a chief of police who can think outside the prison box and who is media savvy.

Finally, I wish to say that citizens have come a long way and can take care of ourselves. We just need lots of information and a little help from a police force that cares.

PROF DR MOHAMAD TAJUDDIN MOHAMAD RASDI is a 23-year veteran academic and teaches architecture at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia. He specialises in mosque and Islamic architecture particularly that which relates to Malaysia using a hadith-based and socio-cultural approach in order to create the total idea of built environment suited for a whole social structure.

  1. #1 by yhsiew on Wednesday, 3 July 2013 - 7:35 am

    I had been shown in a locksmith shop how easy it was to open some domestic padlocks with only a thick steel wire and how quickly a hole could be made on the door just by giving a hard punch on the doorknob. I think the government should educate the people on the types of door/window locks which are suitable for household security.

  2. #2 by Sallang on Wednesday, 3 July 2013 - 7:47 am

    //”A word to the government: in choosing a police chief, get someone who actually cares about the public and not those who promote him or her to the position. Get one who views the public as not some strangers but could be one of his or her children or close relative.

    And while you’re at it, get a chief of police who can think outside the prison box and who is media savvy.”//

    Dear IGP, if I were the present Police Chief, I would have resigned this instant, because I did not qualify the above criteria.

  3. #3 by lee tai king (previously dagen) on Wednesday, 3 July 2013 - 8:20 am

    If i were the igp I would go on a public education campaign to explain clearly everything about perceptions. For example, beng hock is still living today. The rakyat refused to accept this fact but instead chose to believe in the wrong perception that he had died. And etc etc.

    And of course, I need money to run the campaign. So I would ask PM for special budget allocation. I need 10billion a year for that.

  4. #4 by lee tai king (previously dagen) on Wednesday, 3 July 2013 - 8:43 am

    And and and I would need a special advisor. I would engage the son of my cousin as my special special advisor. Of course he would have to set up a company for the purpose. Perhaps, something like, I dont know maybe, Perunding Kronee Sedunia Paling Best Sdn Bhd.

  5. #5 by SENGLANG on Wednesday, 3 July 2013 - 10:46 am

    If you pour water into a glass that has been fully filled the water will not go into it. The police heads seem to have filled with all politically agenda thus the dirty water. no matter how good is the suggestions they are same as pouring water into a fully occupied glass.

    The minister and the police heads simply refused to accept the reality by telling people things like if you need no body guards moving around and you are still moving aroung then it is safe anyway. May to them it need to be really rob and killed only one can qualifying saying that it was no save. Others are safe. That their mentality.

    Best you forgot the police and save yourself, but people are not happy because your money is paying them

  6. #6 by tuahpekkong on Wednesday, 3 July 2013 - 8:01 pm

    The IGP was reported to have said yesterday that though some VIP houses have been broken into, the security situation in the country was still good and we did not require body guards when we were out. He claimed that there was no place in the world which was free from crime. After reading this piece of news, I doubt if he would put in more effort to fight crime as life still goes on as usual in the country. So, there is absolutely nothing to be unduly worried about the crime situation.

  7. #7 by worldpress on Thursday, 4 July 2013 - 12:40 pm

    Are they working or sleeping?

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