Border Five-O: Protecting Indonesia’s territory

Catching bad guys may be sexy, but Indonesia’s border police need infrastructure, equipment and training to fight transnational crime.

Border Five-O: Protecting Indonesia’s territory AFP Photo/Sonny Tumbelaka

Entering the third year of its assessment, Indonesia’s Police Governance Index (PGI) aims to collect a greater range of data to produce better quality findings by scrutinizing internal and external influencing factors that affect a police precinct’s performance, in order to address challenges within a specific context. The Partnership for Governance Reform in Indonesia designed PGI-2017 to provide an initial baseline for standard operating procedures in coastal, border and conflict-prone areas, as reforms are urgently needed due to potential waves of conflict and challenges. This requires a more strategic forecast to further tackle long-term issues, as opposed to focusing only on the short term.

From the analysis of quantitative and qualitative data in the PGI, we conclude that the Indonesian National Police should prioritize preventive policing. Many problems or conflicts arise due to a lack of attention to and appreciation of preventive efforts or units. Both prevention and law enforcement should be given proportionate appreciation to build a modern, professional and trusted force  To achieve this requires internal collective awareness to influence the external situation, such as boosting social awareness of the importance of preventive policing.

The urgency of a security standard has become more palpable with the emergence of
new challenges. These challenges should be responded to by making strategic adjustments that can accommodate future challenges and resolve not only short-term but also long-term problems. Therefore, a more specific analysis of police performance is needed to capture the baseline conditions to formulate the security standard for border, maritime and conflictprone areas. Our team also captured public perspectives that view law enforcement as more heroic and interesting than prevention. It is similar to the media paradigm of “bad news is good news.”

The media tends to cover law enforcement activities rather than prevention, leading to the public image that successful police work relates only to “catching the bad guys.” Whereas, the success in preventing a potential disturbance from becoming a real one is less appreciated.

As this paradigm grows as a point of reference and spreads to various segments of Indonesian society, in conflict-prone areas where police precincts operate, prevention should be the main focus of discourse, both within and outside the force. However, building this understanding and awareness cannot be materialized unilaterally by the police. It requires collective action by synergized legislative and executive bodies and society.

In the context of local governance, preventive measures such as public campaigning, coordination with other offices and deradicalization should become priorities for local governments, especially in conflictprone areas. However, data from the field shows that from 36 precinct samples from all conflict areas in Indonesia, the police take the lead in addressing social conflicts. In this context, local governments should take up the role instead, as mandated by the Social Conflict Management Law (Law No. 23 of 2014). The law stipulates that local governments have a responsibility to carry out preventive steps and build collective awareness in their respective areas. Synergy between national and local authorities is necessary in building this collective awareness.

Our team has concluded that when law enforcement is unaccompanied by a collective understanding and awareness of the limits to right or wrong under the Indonesian Constitution, the root causes of conflicts cannot be addressed.

The Partnership for Governance Reform’s Knowledge and Resource Center (KRC) also
captured several indicative causes, namely the shift in viewing aspects of tolerance and nationalism among local decision makers. (The analysis can be found separately in another report.) In response to the discrepancy in the capacity and ability of the National Police in addressing potential regional vulnerabilities, the Regional Security Standard Baseline is necessary as the initial point of reference for
headquarters, to be further processed together with the regional police in order to formulate the police’s security standard as a whole. This year’s Police Governance Index data has become the initial data for the baseline, as it has successfully mapped vulnerability, challenges and needs potential, as well as cooperation with other local agencies.

In mapping out factors that influence performance, the Partnership team analyzed both quantitative and qualitative data by using a wide range of data collection instruments: primary and secondary data. The unit analysis range is between nine and 10 units according to each type. For both border and conflictprone areas there are nine units, while for marine areas there are 10 units. The overall data is transformed into an index on a scale of 1 to 10 for each indicator. The overall indicators form a score of principles, and overall principles form the overall score of police precinct performance. Besides the overall ranking, the PGI also produces subindexes to measure consistency of the precinct model.

To see the police working pattern in each area, we can analyze the performance of three main police functions: public service and protection, security and social order, and law enforcement. Security and social order performance is supported by four functional units, namely the community and society development unit (Binmas), the intelligence and security unit (Intelkam), the alert unit (Sabhara) and the water police (Polair). Public service and protection is supported by four functional units, namely the human resources unit (Sumda), the traffic unit (Lantas), the profession and internal security unit (Propam), and the center for integrated police services. The law enforcement function is supported by two functional units, namely the criminal detective unit (Reskrim) and the drug detective unit (Resnarkoba). The following analysis will describe the overall performance of governance principles and function units in each type.

Coastal areas

Indonesia is one of the largest seawater fish producers in the world. In 2014, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) ranked Indonesia second in fish catches with six million tons, equivalent to 6.8 percent of the global total. Yet, illegal fishing remains rampant. The FAO has estimated the value of losses due to fish theft in Indonesian waters to be as high as $20 billion per year. The Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries has identified the most vulnerable areas of illegal fishing as the Arafura Sea in eastern Indonesia; the North Sulawesi Sea; and the golden triangle between Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia. Apart from fish theft, environmental effects from various illegal fishing methods – the use of bombs, toxins and so forth – have threatened to destroy 65 percent of Indonesia’s coral reefs.

The vulnerability potential in coastal areas is very high, with layers of shady actors that demand cross-agency coordination as well as increased capacity exceeding that of previous years. To map the current conditions, the KRC team sampled 27 precincts with partial or large coastal areas. From the enriched and objective data, we can map out the gap between the current and ideal standards based on the PGI findings. In the search for a model in coastal areas, our PGI team used more than 200 generic and specific indicators in accordance with coastal characteristics to find the best performance precincts, including unit performance, in carrying out their respective duties and functions in the direction of being a professional, modern and reliable police force. The PGI result shows that in coastal areas, security and social order performance ranked 

Environmental effects from various illegal fishing methods – the use of bombs, toxins and so forth – have threatened to destroy 65 percent of Indonesia’s coral reefs.

the highest (6.39), followed by public service and protection (6.26), and law enforcement (5.92). From the above analysis of functions, we shift to the performance of precincts with dominant coastal areas. The average performance of the border precincts being sampled was 6.24 on a scale of 1 to 10.
This is categorized as good. For the performance of police governance principles, border precincts have emphasized the implementation of transparency (6.79), responsiveness (6.77) and effectiveness
(6.45). The less emphasized principles are accountability (6.15), fairness (5.57) and competence (5.30). One interesting finding reveals that police precincts in coastal areas are, in fact, capable of
implementing transparency through the use of social media, in stark contrast to allegations that coastal precincts lack the capability to create transparency. Nevertheless, national government support for facilities and infrastructure in coastal areas remains needed in order to improve the performance of precincts located there.

It is ironic to find that the performance of the water police, which should be the key unit in coastal areas, sits at the bottom. This demands special attention from the National Police and national government in Jakarta. As an illustration, if ship facilities are inadequate, then the water police cannot perform its functions. Similarly, in the absence

of investigators, crimes can neither be disclosed nor investigated. It is often that the head of
the water police is the only person who can conduct an investigation, and due to a lack of
manpower, only a few cases can be handled.

Conflict-prone areas

Conflict-prone areas are areas that are categorized as having a history of racial, ethnic, religious and other social divisions (SARA), such as land and industrial conflicts, as well as intolerance, radicalism and extremism. With differences in each regional context, the needs of each conflict category also differ, especially in terms of necessary competence, facilities and infrastructure. In search of a model for conflict-prone areas, the PGI team used more than 200 generic and specific indicators in accordance with coastal characteristics to find the best performance precincts, including unit performances in carrying out their respective duties and functions in the direction of a professional, modern and reliable police force.

From 36 samples of conflict-prone areas, the average performance of the precincts was 6.23 out of 10. This average is above last year’s (6.01). It also exceeded the Bureau of Police Bureaucratic Reform achievement target (6.15). This result is an achievement the National Police can be proud of, due to its commitment to prioritizing conflict prevention and management. The tree top precincts are Bau-Bau (6.79), Central Lombok (6.67) and Maros (6.65). The three precincts at the bottom are Aceh Singkil (5.70), Bolaang Mogondow (5.69) and Tulangbawang (5.38).

With these scores, the National Police is expected to improve its performance, particularly through improvements in performance of functions, principles and indicators that are conflict-prone specific.

Some prominent characteristics of high-ranking areas include standard operating procedures for conflict prevention and surveillance of explosives and the like; early detection technology facilities; frequency of involvement of precinct chiefs/heads of intelligence units in the Local Leaders Coordination Forum (Forkominda); or meetings with local figures in their respective regions. The result of police efforts in these high-ranking areas has been consistent, lowering the number of conflicts and the potential for new ones. However, it should be noted that the precincts as well as local governments in conflict-prone areas need to have a common understanding that harmony does not mean only taking sides with the majority, but is more about enforcing the constitutional rights of all citizens without discrimination. PGI results show that in conflict-prone areas, security 

Police precincts in border areas are, in fact, capable of implementing transparency through the use of social media.

and social order performance ranked the highest (6.54), followed by public services and protection (6.11), and then law enforcement (6.02).

Police governance principles

For the performance of police governance principles, precincts in conflict-prone areas have emphasized the implementation of transparency (6.87 out of 10), accountability (6.82) and effectiveness (6.55). The less emphasized principles are fairness (5.57) and competence (5.30). An interesting finding reveals that precincts in conflict-prone areas, apart from their responsibility to manage conflicts, remain capable of implementing transparency through the use of social media. This is also used to disseminate appeals, as well as for prevention and monitoring of social media. Police support of conflictprone areas through the provision of a special budget greatly assists Binmas and Intelkam units in coaching and mobilization. The topperforming functional units are consistently units that support the security and public service functions.

Looking at this year’s conflict potential patterns from sampled precincts in conflictprone areas, there are at least three dominant potentials: conflicts related to ethnicity, race and religion; land ownership and industrial permitting; and intolerance, radicalism and terrorism. These three patterns of potential conflict need a different set of competence, facilities and infrastructure in order to improve.

Ethnic conflicts

With regard to conflicts related to ethnicity, race and religion, the 2017 Police Governance Index precinct samples show prominent areas such as Aceh Singkil, northern Lampung, Gowa and Bau-Bau. We found two types of conflicts – conflict between local ethnic groups and immigrants, and conflicts about religious freedom – caused by the growing influence of radical groups. We found the potential of long conflicts over religious freedom, race and ethnicity. Examples include conflicts in Aceh Singkil and North Lampung. Particularly in Aceh Singkil, the history of SARA conflicts started in 1979 and continued until 2001, with the last such conflict occurring in 2015. Another trigger for SARA conflicts were land disputes in Lampung and Gowa. Land conflicts have also flared up in North Lampung between local communities and large companies, including multiple cases in 2016.

Border areas

During the administration of President Joko Widodo, almost all major border areas across Indonesia have received attention and undergone transformation ,both in terms of facilities and infrastructure. In the past, many were sorely neglected. This infrastructure overhaul should be followed by the revitalization of border management, by improving the performance of both their development and security.

In terms of border security and defense, the police are particularly challenged by poor infrastructure and facilities, as well as the remoteness of the areas. Among eight border precincts surveyed (six land and two coastal), the average condition of road infrastructure was very poor, which makes travel to the
district police even more difficult. Other obstacles are the lack of water and electricity supply. On average, water facilities are available and run well, but water quality is rather poor because police use groundwater from deep wells. Electricity is available but blackouts occur several times a day. Telecommunication networks exist but the procurement of telecommunication equipment by border police is very low.

The vulnerability potential in border areas depends on the level of their population. For a busy land border gate such as Karimun, in the Riau Islands, threat potentials include trafficking of drugs and people and the smuggling of goods. While in quieter area such as Merauke, Papua Province, security and public order are potentially vulnerable, mostly due to people who consume alcohol and trigger fights, and the circulation of illegal drugs. West Kalimantan Province, being the longest border in Indonesia, has the highest level of vulnerability. The following is a special review of border precincts in West Kalimantan that could serve as a standard for border area management based on a draft document on management standards by the Pontianak regional police’s planning bureau.

The longest border area

West Kalimantan’s border with the Malaysian state of Sarawak stretches 600 miles, from Sambas regency to East Kalimantan Province, making it the longest provincial border in Indonesia. The border area includes open land, swamps, hills and rivers within more than 9,300 square miles. The massive, remote area consists of 15 districts and 99 villages. There are 62 illegally accessible roads connecting 55 West Kalimantan villages with 32 villages across the border in Sarawak. Due to these unique features, the PGI uses this border as the model for border areas nationwide.

Along the border, we mapped out several potential transnational crimes: illegal logging; illegal fishing; illegal mining; human, weapons and explosives trafficking; and sea piracy. At the same time, particular to the border with Malaysia, an agreement allows residents on each side to bring across purchased dailyuse commodities. While Indonesia’s border security is regulated under a national 15-
year master plan, locally produced technical procedures are required in the field as a standard for the establishment of the Security and Surveillance Task Force in border areas, especially in West Kalimantan, given the length of its border.

Based on the standard structure of border management (customs, immigration, quarantine and security, known as CIQS), the key to border management is the service and surveillance system, consisting of the main and supporting service units. However, the security element, which includes security checks conducted by local military and police, is only a support mechanism to the main service element of border post management. Based on the current volume, enhanced competencies include intelligence, early detection, facilities and infrastructure as well as a number of surveillance cars to be parked at the border with capabilities to profile people passing through the border. CCTV is also needed to monitor the perimeter of the border complex. Drone technology could also replace the role of patrol officers along unofficial roads that are difficult to reach.

By looking at this sample border area, a minimum standard for facilities, logistics and infrastructure is needed to address the potential challenge of vulnerabilities more specifically in the border region. The next section will examine precinct performance in border areas as a baseline to establish regional security standards. 

PGI results of precincts in border areas

In the search for a model in border areas, the Partnership’s PGI team used more than 200 generic and specific indicators in accordance with coastal characteristics to find the best performing precincts, including unit performances in carrying out their respective duties and functions to create a professional, modern and reliable police force.

The police index results show that in border areas, security and social order performance ranked the highest (6.75), followed public service and protection (6.27); law enforcement came in last (6.16). Police precincts in Belu, Nunukan, Merauke and western Southeast Maluku should be emphasized for their low scores in law enforcement.

Ranking of Precint Border Areas

From the above analysis of functions, we shift to the performance of precincts with a dominant border area. The average performance of the border precincts being sampled was 6.40 on a scale of 1 to 10. This is categorized as good. For the performance of police governance principles, precincts in border areas have emphasized the implementation of behavior (7.31), transparency (7.11) and effectiveness (6.60). The less emphasized principles are fairness (5.45) and competence (5.35). An interesting finding reveals that police precincts in border areas are, in fact, capable of implementing transparency through the use of social media, in stark contrast to the idea that border precincts lack the capability to create transparency. Support for basic facilities and road infrastructure from the national government will be extremely valuable to improve the performance of precincts in border areas.

Strategic responses

From measuring police governance since 2014, the PGI has produced a baseline for the formulation of the model at the police precinct level. The Partnership’s recommendation is that there should be a comprehensive program to follow up on the result of the assessment, and this recommendation has been positively responded to by the National Police chief, Gen Tito Karnavian.

Currently, the PGI has been formalized through a chief of police decree, and in 2018, as stipulated by Karnavian during the publication of the research, the level of unit analysis will be upgraded to headquarter level where the policy-making takes place. This shows a strong commitment as well as an unprecedented breakthrough in police bureaucracy reform by Karnavian and higher-ranking officials. This has definite consequences in refining the process in strategic units including human resources, inspectorate and prevention, and also supporting units such as the planning and budgeting bureau, which will be the unit of analysis for PGI 2018.

Another strategic program will be cooperation between the Partnership and prevention units, where we will assist the police in building early detection systems in conflictprone areas to anticipate further breakouts of radicalism and extremism. Only with comprehensive intervention, collaboration and an evidence-based participatory system is a path toward democratic policing plausible.


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

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