September 12, 2020, 10.50 PM
Vegetables at Jakartas Pasar Minggu traditional market Dok. Sudin Komunikasi Informasi dan Statistik Jakarta SelatanVegetables at Jakartas Pasar Minggu traditional market

JAKARTA, KOMPAS.comIndonesian National Police Deputy Chief Commissioner General Gatot Eddy Pramono plans to deputize street thugs to help police and military personnel enforce health protocols in Jakarta’s traditional markets.

The move comes as the capital prepares to impose tighter large-scale social distancing (PSBB) next week.

“[The street thugs] are well placed to prevent and contain potential clusters [of Covid-19 cases] in traditional markets, as they know their way around the marketplace,” Gatot told state news agency Antara on September 10. He assured that they will be put on a tight leash.

“Police and military personnel will train [the thugs] to help enforce [health protocols] in a humane manner. We will also supervise them to ensure they will not use force or other illegal methods.”

Also read: Jakarta Reimposes Partial Lockdown from Sept. 14 as Covid-19 Cases Surge

He said that the street thugs' aid is indispensable, as policemen and soldiers are expected to have their hands full enforcing PSBB health protocols. The protocols are expected to be the tightest yet in the capital since Covid-19 was detected in Indonesia last March.

But Indonesia’s leading police watchdog, the National Police Commission or Kompolnas, is not so easily convinced.

“We are concerned that the police’s plan to deputize street thugs will increase tensions,” Kompolnas spokesperson Poengky Indarti told Kompas.com on September 11.

“If, for instance, they strongly reproached or verbally abused somebody too strongly for not wearing masks or failing to comply with other health protocols, or if the person in question talked back, it will lead to physical violence.”

Institute for Security and Strategic Studies (ISESS) analyst Bambang Rukminto voiced similar reservations.

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