New Kapolri? Challenge accepted

The Indonesian National Police need to modernize and change. Can they do it with a new leader?

New Kapolri? Challenge accepted AFP Photo/Eko Siswono Toyudho/Anadolu Agenc

After leading the fourth-largest police force in the world for three years, Tito Karnavian was replaced by the new Kapolri, or chief of the National Police, Idham Azis. While Tito’s policing career has been transformed into a greater challenge to govern local governments as the home affairs minister, the new Kapolri only has 18 months of duty before he retires. What can he do in such a relatively short period of time?

During Tito’s time as Kapolri, there were significant changes that affected the perception of the Indonesian National Police (INP): increased public trust, more performance measurements and a tripling of its budget. In terms of public trust, several survey agencies showed public trust in the INP trending upward. Internally, more performance measurement instruments are in place now to show that the police can manage larger budgets.

However, aside from those several notable achievements, Tito also faced unresolved cases from the past involving human rights violations, social and political turmoil during the 2019 presidential and local elections, and, by the end of his term, the “red book” scandal – a corruption allegation against Tito involving meat import cases when he was Jakarta Police chief in 2015. Adding to the list were the public demonstrations/riots in October 2019 riots over proposed changes to the Indonesian Penal Code, a new Corruption Eradication Commission bill and the Papua insurgencies, which added more alleged human rights violations to the records for the INP.

Overall, even though Tito’s reign was not a clean victory, the public seems quite satisfied with his performance. Some say the new National Police chief has big shoes to fill. Idham, who has been one of Tito’s mentees since he was a middleranking officer, is well aware of this. In his inauguration speech, Idham did not initiate any new programs or missions; he simply stated that he would continue Tito’s work. Thus, the unfinished agenda from Tito’s term should be his priority.

Let us see what is on the table first for 2020. INP will face some big challenges, internally and externally. The biggest internal challenge is the unresolved internal reform agenda, ie the 238 high-level officers with no formal posts, low competency in supporting units and the increasing number of violations in operational units, as well as unfinished regional operational standards. This is the backlog from the unfinished internal governance reform in human resource management, especially in changing the work culture that affects the INP’s overall institutional performance.

The external challenges concern the central government priorities of increasing economic growth and spurring job creation through the release of impending regulations. This requires social and political stability. Thus, Idham’s challenge is to increase the INP’s capacity internally so it will survive the risks and challenges externally.

Idham publicly stated that he would continue the work from Tito’s era, termed Promoter (Professionalism, Modern and Trusted Police). There are seven main priorities: human resource management; maintaining security; law enforcement; media management; synergy; good governance; and strengthening monitoring. How effective are these priorities and are they still relevant?

With Promoter, the number one reform in human resource management, the Police Governance Index (PGI), measured the competency of samples from 32 provincial, 208 district and 12 working units at headquarter levels. The average low score trend of below 5 out of 10 in competency justifies the new National Police’s first priority in human resource management.

The most urgent issue that should be tackled is the increasing number of middle opportunities due to limited budgets, especially in supporting units’ competency such as planning, budgeting and research. While for the operational units, it’s about more training for community empowerment, intelligence and other prevention personnel.

Regarding Promoter, number three – maintaining security – the INP should impose more preventive measures as its main tactical strategies in handling social and/or ideological-related insurgencies, otherwise INP’s human rights violation cases will keep increasing.

In terms of performance for maintaining national stability, PGI data shows a general trend of using proxy indicators from taking average scores from supporting units that directly affect the three main police functions as the protector and guardian, public service (linyomyan), maintaining security and public order (harkamtibmas), and law enforcement (gakkum).

Public service performance is supported by four functional units: the community and society development unit (Binmas); the intelligence and security unit (Intelkam); the alert unit (Sabhara); and the water police (Polair). The Police Public Service is supported by four functional units: the human resources unit (Sumda); the traffic unit (Lantas); the profession and internal security unit (Propam); and the center for integrated police services (SPKT). The Gakkum function is supported by two functional units: the criminal detective unit (Reskrim) and the drug detective unit (Resnarkoba).

PGI data since 2015 shows that, in general, the National Police have performed better in law enforcement than in maintaining security. This signifies that Idham should continue Tito’s efforts in developing prevention units’ capacity, especially Baharkam units (the community policing unit, protest handling unit, water and air police) and intelligence units.

For law enforcement, the trend is the highest among the three main functions of the National Police. The main problem in this area is that the process of case management is still prone to high levels of corruption. From the external respondent’s point of view, (around 6,000 respondents from 2016-17 and 2019), the criminal units and sub-units always had the highest risk of extortion and misuse of authority.

Given this, what can be done to shape up the prevention units? From our mapping assessment, first, the INP should put prevention units equal to law enforcement units. It is publicly known that it is harder to measure the success of prevention than mitigation. Second, the INP must determine the key performance indicators based on outcome or impact indicators from the public perspective, and insert external factors, not only using the internal perspective. Third, inserting external factors as part of risk assessment such as geography, access to infrastructure, culture of the society in one area and which government policies could trigger conflicts. These factors should be considered when shaping prevention units strategies.

In terms of geography, the size of the area, whether it is highland or lowland, the natural disaster potential (including number and condition of refugees) affect the performance of the local police.

The condition of infrastructure, which includes availability of electricity, water and fuel, telecommunications (including mobile phones and “handy-talky” needs) are crucial to handle cases in remote areas. The condition of community heterogeneity (immigration rates), community character in conflict resolution (level of education) and the level of social cohesion (the quality of interethnic, racial and religious dialogue), and the existence of tradition and custom as well as history of conflict, determine the risk that will faced by local governments.

With the central government’s priorities, the process of industrial permits, level of concern of local governments and local parliaments toward issues and community will affect the potential risk. The omission of the above factors will affect the overall performance of INP in maintaining security. These are all the factors to be tackled and managed in the first quarter of 2020 to manage the potential risks at the regional level and increase local police performance.

With Promoter number five – synergy in policing – within a short period of time, INP should focus on formulating its strategic direction on the outcomes and impacts of the National Police’s security services, synchronizing working units’ targets and clustering local needs based on geographical and social aspects. One of the most urgent actions is the essential minimum forces’ needs. Until now, central government policy does not correspond to regional needs. The logistic unit’s governance index score was the lowest in the 2018 organizational assessment (total index score of 5.4 out of 10). This
shows that from six major strategic fields (human resources, planning and budgeting, education, supervision, operations and logistics) at the headquarter level, the logistics policy and mechanism should be revisited and revised.

The new policy in logistics should use evidence-based mapping research from the internal National Police research unit, strategic operational units or independent studies such as the PGI rapid assessment from 70 district polices in 2017, which categorized the needs from district police based on geographical aspects: border and coastal areas and social aspects of places prone to conflict that can be used as a basis for developing operational standard procedures.

Another highlighted finding was that the synergy between INP and local government should be improved. PGI data shows that conflict management in the regions is still problematic since the division of roles between local government and local police in dealing with conflicts is still unclear. With Tito as the new home affairs minister, the new chief must uphold Law No 7/2012 that the local government should be the leading sector, not the INP. In previous years, since most local governments did not want to deal with conflicts, and even became instigators of local conflicts, the INP, with its heavily law enforcement approach, took a more pragmatic approach to make minorities lose due to pressure from the majority, especially with ideological-related cases.

This pattern was shown in the Intolerance Index by Indonesia’s Setara Institute (in 34 provinces), with the number of cases increasing from 160 in 2018 to 202 in 2019. Among the 202 cases, 72 involved state and 130 non-state actors. In most cases, the minority lost over the demands from the majority. Thus, the risk of vertical and horizontal conflicts in 2020 is still high due to local elections in 270 districts and cities. The same strategy of instilling fear and anger within society will still be in play for the next year within local politics. Whether the INP will use the same strategy next year will determine the new chief ’s performance.

Regarding Promoter number five – good governance – Tito has passed on his legacy in pioneering the police index to Idham. In PGI, the INP has cooperated with the Partnership for Governance Reform research team since 2014 and our team has updated the performance measurement data from 2014.

In 2019, we pilot-tested the online assessment form to 70 police districts and managed to collect data from 68 district police forces. The overall sample that we have gathered from the past five years is 32 provincial police departments, 208 district police and 12 headquarter working units.

Next year, the plan is to measure all 461 police districts. Based on the PGI Roadmap 2019-24, the system will gradually measure all working units – a total of 1,041 working units.

From this data, the National Police will have ample evidence as well as time-series data to produce better recommendations for INP strategy, and could determine what should be prioritized in the short, medium and long term.

This year’s priority is to ensure performance measurements can be made online and that the pathway for data integration is in place through establishing the Data Center for Bureaucratic Reform. In this way, the new police chief can not only just continue the previous program, but also ensure the institutional memory for the next chief of police.

For Promoter number six – media management – the most important thing is the compilation and analysis of the impact from policing programs. The police currently use a centralized Public Relations Unit with a traditional approach to build a good image and counter negative images. This reactive policy will not be effective in the long term because it does not correlate with the core business of the INP. Capturing more bad guys basically indicates the failure of prevention measures. The INP should devise more strategic and comprehensive accountability public reports as part of its strategic public relations.

Last but not least, regarding Promoter number seven – strengthening monitoring – the assessment result of the inspectorate’s performance was fairly good (7 out of 10) in 2018. What is missing is a programmatic evaluation since the core competency of incorporated personnel is financial audits. The audit approach should be complemented with analysis that links the use of budgets with INP outcome indicators.

Overall, Idham’s decision to continue Promotes means it is still relevant, but there are still missing puzzle pieces that could be used to improve the police’s performance. Idham should use a “helicopter view” to ensure the effectiveness of the INP. Many say Idham has nothing to lose since he will retire, so the main question is will Idham, who has accepted the challenge from Tito, be able to maintain this legacy he inherited? We shall watch and see.


Lenny Hidayat is a governance and policy researcher with Indonesia’s Partnership for Governance Reform in Jakarta.

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