Friday, 25 March 2016

Keeping the Force Happy?

Traffic copy firing shots in the air will receive a lanyard with four colours
Some 250 frontline police at the Mongkok riots on February 8-9 are being recommended for internal awards, including the officer who fired two warning shots into the air.

The list is for commendations to reward officers for their "devotion to duty" during the violent clashes overnight.

It is believed top honours will go to Sergeant Wong Lok-on, who suffered skull and cheekbone fractures in clashes with protesters on the first night of Chinese New Year. He has been recommended to receive the "red lanyard" by Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying.

Four other officers will be recommended for a "lanyard with four colours", for going "beyond the call of duty". One of them is the traffic policeman who fired two shots into the air to protect his colleagues who were being attacked.

Over 100 police were wounded in the Mongkok riots
Another is one who was on the ground while protesters threw bricks, glass bottles and wooden boards at him.

"Top management does not object to the idea of awarding the traffic cop with the lanyard. After all, his shots had been justified," a source said. "His decision showed extraordinary courage, as he was to save his colleagues whose lives were under threat."

Critics have questioned why the officer had to fire the warning shots, but the police insist he had no choice. Over 100 police were wounded during the riot.

But the source adds that recommending so many police officers seems to be an attempt to appease them, as they were not pleased with how superiors had directed them during the incident.

"Some of them deserve the merits. But we also notice an increasing number of commendations in recent years," the source added. "Commendation adds an advantage in future promotions. If everyone has it, what's the value?"

More than 1,300 officers commended after Occupy protests
This is what happened after the 79-day Occupy protests, where more than 1,300 officers received merits, and 50 were awarded a lanyard in four colours.

It's interesting how this source has hinted upper management is desperate to keep morale up for frontline officers and this is its way of keeping them happy.

Is this the only way it knows to support its officers?

They had complained they were not given effective commands, and that Chief Superintendent Crusade Yau Siu-kei, acting Mongkok district commander that night, had underestimated the situation.

He will be moved to another position -- is that the right way to punish people for making the wrong call?

Also recruitment is difficult -- the police force has had to lower the requirements for physical fitness in order to get more recruits... not exactly reassuring.

It seems the Hong Kong government is using any means to justify the need for more security which has led to greater tensions that could spark into full-blown incidents.

It's a self-fulfilling prophecy which the Leung administration seems to favour.

In the meantime, do 250 officers really deserve those awards that the taxpayers are shelling out for?

We'd rather more resources go into effective policing, such as enhancing negotiation and communication training, and conflict resolution.

That might be a step in the right direction for the police to regain the public's trust.

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