A simple code for the police

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By Ramon Dacawi

Benchwarmer

Saturday, October 6, 2012


SENIOR Superintendent Jesus Cambay Jr., the newly installed city police director, has hit the ground running.

He comes armed with a code of conduct he formulated when he learned of his selection, spelling it out the moment he was sworn in, for all members of Baguio’s Finest (as the force has been known for years) to live by, at least professionally, while he’s in command.

That’s what his immediate predecessor, Sr. Supt. Roberto Soriano, did – hit the ground running. It did not matter to him that his designation as city director for two times was in an acting capacity, and therefore short. What was of the moment - and truly admirable - was that Soriano proved his seniority by serving the interim assignment with greater passion, wisdom and leadership than some regular city, provincial or regional directors.

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As did Soriano, Cambay saw immediate need to shift the conventional orientation, belief and experience members of the force. Like Soriano, he had them support the city’s barangays in the regular monitoring of the segregation and disposal of household garbage, as if waste segregation were a normal part of police work.

Only the other week, Mayor Mauricio Domogan himself called on the officers to be on the look-out for bags of garbage coming in from other barangays or even outside the city and dumped at a barangay pick-up center as if the trash came from within.

Then city director Isagani Nerez went beyond monitoring. He had officers reassigned here from Abra walk down Abanao St. until Harrison Rd., picking up litter along their way. The officers were initially surprised and then realized it made sense. One of them, a grizzled senior officer, admitted the task given was unusual but then expressed a feeling of fulfillment over having come over to clean for residents their city.

In that vein of doing the manual, unglamorous task when needed, Cambay came with an 11-point credo of sorts that he titled “Simple Things the Baguio City Police shall do for the City.”

Simply, it mandates the men and women of the force to “enforce anti-littering and waste management ordinances,” something Cambay including in their initial marching orders.

Under Rule 5 of “Simple Things”, members of Baguio’s Finest will now have to observe traffic rules and regulations that they have been imposing on citizens yet themselves sometimes violate.

They will no longer exercise what used to be a simple yet classic case of arrogance of those in power: obstruct or block traffic with their patrol cars or motorcycles.

By Cambay’s word, residents will now expect police officers to smile and be courteous at all times. They will now respond promptly to emergency cases and do their best of fight all crimes. They will be neat and keep their offices and patrol cars clean.

No more cell phone texting that keeps a resident waiting to be served. Police officers smoking in public places will now be a thing of the past. You won’t see them put their hands in their pockets while walking the beat.

To these “Simple Things,” the chief added five sub-points for those on mobile patrol, topped by a reiteration of Rule 5: “I shall not violate traffic rulegs and regulations except during extreme emergencies.”

At night, residents can expect all patrol cars to have their blinkers on, while those no on mobile shall be parked at strategic visibility points.

Likewise, beat and mobile patrols will coordinate with barangay officials, purok leaders and the Barangay Police Action Teams (BPATS) being created and expanded to strengthen community partnership in peace and order maintenance.

First to respond to Cambay’s call were members of the transport group led by Diony Itliong. They, too, launched a five-point guidepost titled “Simple Things I (as citizen) can do to help the Baguio City Police Office.”

“I shall respect the police, soldiers, jail officers, firemen and persons in authority, obey traffic rules and regulations, obey anti-littering and waste management laws and ordinances, help disseminate emergency contact numbers of the police, and to report crimes, including violations of ordinances on waste management and traffic.”

Doing these simple things means bringing closer Baguio to what it was - and should be.

That was when you needed no traffic sign or cop to know when to cross a pedestrian lane or stop your car so pedestrians, especially the weak and elderly, could cross. That was when you avoided passing through Session Road, the inclined main street, when you’re on a rush, lest you have to greet people you meet, as Baguio residents then knew each other, if not by name, then by face.

That was when Baguio was one neighborhood, not 128 barangays.

That was when the whole city would come to a stop at the sound of the city hall siren at the end of the day, for residents take a moment to pray at the angelus, or freeze out of respect for those who did, knowing fully well that those who didn’t were not from Baguio.

That was when the city police force was Baguio’s Finest.

(e-mail:mondaxbench@yahoo.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on October 06, 2012.

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