ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, March 25, 2007
Vol. 41 - No 43

How to correct the many wrongs in the police

Open letter to the President of the Police Inspectors’ Association

I write with reference to the news item which appeared in "The Sunday Times” of 18.02.2007 under the heading “Chief Inspectors protest grads going over them”.

I am compelled to write this open letter to the President of the Police Inspectors' Association Dale Gunaratne as I feel he has mis-represented facts regarding the recruitment of graduates to the rank of A.S.Ps and hence it might create a wrong impression in the minds of the public.

Recruitment of graduates is not a new thing. It commenced at the time when Sir Richard Aluwihare was the I.G.P. with the appointment of Osmund de Silva and Sydney de Zoysa as probationary A.S.Ps. Subsequently, Osmund de Silva became the I.G.P. and rendered distinguished service to this country and Sydney de Zoysa discharged his duties as an officer without fear or favour and they were held in very high esteem by the members of the public.

Similarly, S.A. Dissanayake and his brother C.C. Dissanayake also joined as direct recruits and Mr. S.A. Dissanayake became the I.G.P. These two officers also rendered yeoman service to this country. Thereafter, Stanley Senanayake was also recruited as a direct recruit and retired as I.G.P. Therefore, those who were recruited direct to the rank of A.S.Ps maintained an unblemished record of service unlike their counterparts promoted from the ranks.

This is not the first time that the Inspectors are protesting the appointment of direct recruits. Over three decades ago these inspectors went before the Basnayake Police Commission and demanded that no direct recruitment should be made to the rank of A.S.Ps and the Police Commission rejected this demand in toto stating that there should be educated officers in the Police Service. These Inspectors also made representations to the then President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga who rejected their demand and this same demand was made when Ranil Wickremesinghe was the Prime Minister when 70 rankers were to be promoted as A.S.Ps and 25 percent of that number to be recruited direct. Mr. Wickremesinghe also rejected this demand and directed that half this number, namely 35 direct recruits be appointed to the rank of A.S.P. Unfortunately the Treasury did not provide the necessary financial allocation.

What is the position of the Police Service if Police Constables also demand that direct recruitment of Sub Inspectors be done away with so that their members could aspire to become the I.G.P. Does this not amount to bringing down the high standard maintained by the Police Department and thereby impair the efficiency of the service.

Similarly, if the members of the Government Clerical Service demand that no direct recruitment should be made to the Ceylon Administrative Service from the graduates and that they should be permitted to become Heads of Departments and Government Agents, this demand may have to be conceded. Direct recruitment of officers is done in all Government Departments, including the Prisons Department and the armed services. Sixty percent of direct recruitment is made to the C.A.S. and it is only the balance 40 percent that is promoted from the clerical service, and it is the same with regard to other Services in the Government. So the Inspectors’ Association has made this preposterous demand without any merit or substance and it should be rejected in toto the same way that the Basnayake Police Commission rejected this demand over three decades ago.

President Gunaratna also speaks of integrity and the efficiency of the rankers in solving crime. As far as integrity is concerned, the Police Department had earned a reputation as the most corrupt Government department and this is due to the fact that those who go from the ranks are used to resorting to bribery and corruption and even when they become A.S.Ps they cannot give up this habit. It is reported that some of these higher officers get their subordinate officers to obtain illegal gratifications for them. How many A.S.Ps, S.Ps and D.I.Gs promoted from the ranks face inquiries in the Bribery Commissioner’s Department? These officers who go from the ranks turn a blind eye to the lapses of the subordinate officers for they themselves had committed such lapses before they were promoted to the gazetted rank. But, this is not the case when it comes to direct recruits. They always maintained the dignity of the exalted office they hold and do not resort to actions that tarnish the image of the Police Service. President Gunaratna also says that rankers are capable of solving crime unlike the direct recruits. It is a well known fact that they resort to third degree methods and some of them are most inhuman. The previous Chairman of the National Police Commission, Mr. Ranjith Abeysuriya, P.C., related over TV how the rankers solve crime. In one particular instance which had come to light, an Inspector whose case for promotion to the rank of A.S.PP was supposed to have been sponsored by this Inspectors Association the officer concerned had extracted the tooth of the suspect with a plier.

So, that is how these rankers solve crime. On the other hand, direct recruits do not stoop so low and adopt humane and scientific methods.

I must say that even among rankers there were exceptional cases such as late A.S.P. Lionel Gunatilleke and retired D.I.G. Tyrell Gunatilleke. These officers did not adopt this type of inhuman methods to extract confessions. In an interview to a newspaper the late Mr. Lionel Gunatilleke had stated that he used to feed the suspects to their hearts content but denied water to drink. That type of method had been adopted by these eminent officers but now inhuman methods violating human rights of suspects are used.

Most of these rankers resort to very low methods for monetary considerations, etc., thereby violating the human rights of the public.

The only way to minimize corruption in the Police Department is to recruit more and more direct recruits to the rank of A.S.Ps. I would thereafter appeal to the Chairman of the National Police Commission that in accordance with the method adopted in the C.A.S. at least 60 per cent be recruited direct to the rank of A.S. Ps and not 25 percent as at present so that they will check the wrongful acts of the rankers.

By M.C.L. Mendis, Udahamulla.

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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.