Police as frontline fighters against C-19 regaining image
Despite the news of corruption, irregularities and failures in the Health Sector during the Covid-19 pandemic the frontline fighters in the battle against the coronavirus have been hitting the media headlines and drawing the appreciation of the people.
In the face of a myriad complains, the country's elite law enforcement agencies have now started to draw compliments and restore confidence of the people. In fact, as a frontline fighter against the coronavirus pandemic, the Bangladesh Police, inspired by the call of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and moved by the spirit of humanitarian service, appears to have kept its Mujib Year 2020 promise. That promise was to convert itself into a people - friendly force.
Among the law enforcing agencies, not only the police but also the BGB, RAB, Ansars are also focused as frontline fighters in the battle against Covid-19, demonstrating their competence and commitment to service to the nation.
We have witnessed a different police force, with a strong sense of commitment, has been in the frontline since the very first day of the outbreak of the Corona- curse. The number one law enforcement agency has been one among the frontline fighters to swing into action against the deadly pandemic that raised the public image of the Police force.
The pro-people commitment of the Police force has been markedly noticeable. Alongside executing their regular duties, the law enforcers had also appeared as responsible healthcare campaigners, routinely advising people on the streets to wear protective gears and maintain social distancing. Moreover, the law enforcers, undaunted even in the face of risks of the pandemic, undertook rigorous extra-time patrolling duties to implement lockdown rules in a people-friendly manner.
With increasing number of infection and death rates in the country, the police haven't given up. They haven't abandoned the people fearing death or getting infected, rather they have appeared as a robust and resolute force. Our police have been performing by taking serious health risks as well. Its members are regularly contracting the virus by coming into contact with infected persons; the most vulnerable has been those who work at check-posts and traffic-control points. Data compiled by police headquarters shows that at least 50 police officers have died from Covid -19 and nearly 15,000 others in the force have been infected with the deadly virus. Of them, more than 9,000 have made full recovery and resumed their duties. Among them, 2,330 are from Dhaka Metropolitan Police alone. Moreover, in many areas they have been functioning without safety equipment like Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as there had been short supply of PPE. The law enforcement agencies' service to people during the pandemic has become visible.
One particular point in this regard, the protracted 66 days long lockdown had turned all of our big cities into desolate localities. Streets were empty. Secluded streets and neighborhoods could potentially turn into crime hotspots, but apart from a few isolated incidents, the overall crime rate in the country had significantly dropped. It is not because that professional criminals and organized gangs were inactive in the midst of the pandemic, but the outstanding drop in crime rate was achieved because of our law enforcers' round-the-clock monitoring.
Apart from regular duties and the important role playing in the combat against the pandemic, police men all over the country including Dhaka city, have been seen providing humanitarian assistance, reaching relief materials, distributing food items to the poor and helpless families, and have been actively engaged in burial and cremation of bodies. Even when relatives feared to attend the funeral, the police men helped volunteers of some NGOs to bury the bodies defying the risks of getting infected.
The fact that the country's police force, besides maintaining the law and order, can also play a leading role in providing humanitarian assistance at a critical time has been widely praised. The force's members delivered food items to homes of quarantined people and their families across the country amid the corona crisis. They have also sent vegetables and other kitchen items in the lockdown areas and quarantined families. Many police members also distributed their own ration and part of their income to the poor and helpless families. In line with delivering relief materials, members of the police force are continuing to raise awareness about COVID-19 and leading activities to spray disinfectants on the streets by aiding the municipality corporations in capital Dhaka and other cities. In terms of coming forward to distribute PPE items, the law enforcers' have also provided health safety items, including masks, hand sanitizers and gloves to common people.
In particular, the Coronavirus teams for emergency service of police have been on-duty for transporting patients to hospitals and dead bodies for funerals.
The IGP and senior officials of the force have also worked undaunted to raise the commitment, confidence and spirit of the members of the law enforcing agencies. They were seen active to inspire the members of their force, at the same time, to keep the moral and courage of the force in the face of pandemic risks and hazards.
The positive changes that we have observed are likely to change the overall image of Bangladesh Police. Members of the country's leading law enforcement agency deserve kudos from all. The Covid-19 pandemic gave an opportunity to the police force to redeem its commitment to serve, to regain the confidence of the people and restore the image of the force. The pandemic will go. But it is essential for the force to keep its commitment, continue to retain people's confidence and sustain its image even after the pandemic.