Sunday, August 23, 2015

Patrolling: According to PDG Ricardo Marquez, CPNP (And Some Suggestions)

Recently I heard The Chief talk about Patrolling again.  I said again because that was not the first time that I heard him talk about this subject.  When he was still the Chief of the Directorate for Operations, I personally heard him lecture about “Patrol 101” and I have experienced a situation that right after he left the venue after delivering his lecture, the next speaker, a very high ranking general said, “Bakit pa natin kailangan ang lecture na ito?  Alam na natin ito.” giving a live example to the premise of The Chief that patrolling became a lost art because everyone thought and believe that it is a very simple thing that everyone assumed that everyone know how to do it.  But is it that simple really?

Patrol Motorcycle

The Chief stresses time and again that he wants policemen to be on patrol and “be good in what we do” by having two things:  competence and discipline.  I agree with The Chief and for this article, let me inject my idea on “COMPETENCE IN PATROLLING.”

The Patrol 101 lecture of the Chief recognizes the fact that patrolling has degraded to low levels because everyone assumes that it is so simple that nobody needs special training for it.  It is so simple that everyone assumes that everybody knows it.  But is it that simple?  Yes, The Chief mentioned about “Knocking on the doors” and “Meeting people” and “Just being visible” as among the most important jobs of the patrol officer.  The Chief is right.  These things help regain the trust of the people on the police.  But these are just the routines during normal situations and the citizens expect nothing spectacular from the police.  Heck, even the barangay tanods can do these things—and they actually do this together with the police because the use of force multipliers is actually encouraged by several PNP programs.  In this aspect, patrolling is easy.

But patrolling gets exponentially difficult if things get complicated—and it is here that the most important demonstration of police competence gets very critical.  When “shit hits the fan,”  the police is placed in a make or break situation.  In these situations, people expects the police to “ACTUALLY DO SOMETHING” BECAUSE THE REST OF THE POPULACE DO NOT KNOW WHAT TO DO OR CANNOT DO WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE.  It is during these situations that the police lose public goodwill—BIGTIME—especially when the blunders of the responding elements are caught on camera!  Conversely, when the police do good (even not that good), the “pogi points” shoot up radically!

So what are these situations?  They range from the simple to the fatal.  Let me show you some from you tube:

SM Rosales Shooting

 SM Pampanga Shooting

In these two incidents, the PNP went from hero to zero.

On the positive side, here are some excellent police performances:

In Caloocan City, netizens called this cop "Hero Cop:"

In Cubao, these policemen earned praises for their dedication:

 And who can forget the lady cops of the Mall of Asia:

It can be noted that the most critical aspect of the patrol job is in the use of force.  It is during these instances that the police become hero to zero in no time at all.   It is here that people praise the police to high heavens or condemn them to eternal damnation.

Ironically, it can be argued that there is no training that can prepare a patrol officer to deal with ALL incidents that he may encounter on the job.  While there are basic skills and knowledge relevant to patrol duties such as firearms proficiency, knowledge in the use of force, restraints, radios, and the likes, the most applicable "street smarts" are acquired through actual experience over a period of time and it is here that many PCOs fall short.  Many, especially the PNPAyers and the lateral entrants, started in the service as PCOs who had not experienced actual pounding of the beat that the PNCOs are doing.  So if the PCO does not go the extra length of learning these street smarts, then, all his knowledge in patrol will be based on "kwento" especially on the use of force.

Let us take a couple case studies from YouTube:

Legaspi City


In these two incidents, while obviously, suspects were taken into custody, the PNP did not gain any pogi points because of several issues, all of them centering on the use of force and its legal basis.  The Legaspi incident is even led by an officer at that huh!

These are examples of the most delicate situation that a patroller face in the streets:  warrantless arrest.  Compared to other things like “knocking on the doors,” warrantless arrest is the most critical because do it wrong and you can end up dead or in jail.  Unlike arresting a person by virtue of warrant of arrest, there are a lot of variables in warrantless arrest.  Among the questions that run in the mind of the police officer BEFORE the decision to make the arrest is made are:

1.    Why should I arrest this person?  With this question he must review first and foremost Rule 113 of the Rules of Court.  Likewise, he needs to have a clear grasp of the relevant provisions of Book 2 of the Revised Penal Code. 
2.    Then the inevitable question, “Who is this person I am arresting?”  Ang apelyido nya ay Marquez.  Kaano ano kaya nya si Chief?

When the police officer does decide to make the arrest, then comes the questions

1.    “HOW?” i.e. Shall I draw my gun?  If I draw and point it to him, will it not be excessive force?  If I do not draw and this person decides to resist and fight, can I handle it and not end up like this guy?

In all these situations, lectures and practical exercises can only do so much.  The best (and only) teacher of these things is named EXPERIENCE and she is teaching exclusively in the School of Hard Knocks of the University of Life.

Now comes the question:  How many of the PCOs now, who are supposed to be the ones guiding the PNCOs in the field and the frontlines, have actual experience on this matter?  They may say, "Alam na namin yan!"  But reality says otherwise as can be gleaned from the Legaspi video.  The PCO is not exactly sure of what he is doing.  He appeared to have decided to proceed with the arrest and orders his men to carry it out.  However, the personnel vacillated although in the end, three people gets arrested.  But lo and behold, why is it that the leader was not placed in handcuffs when the others were restrained?  And before the vehicle drove away, the leader even went down again from the patrol car and initiated anothervscene before being finally led away.

Here is one sample of a confident cop who knows exactly what to do:

And here is the anti thesis:

Another sample of a policeman who does not know what he is doing:  Imagine fiddling with your phone while on a police intervention situation?  Ano na ginawa ng mga opisyal ng mga ito?

There is a live topic in Facebook (Police Digest sa FB and COPs Corner) now generating thousands of replies from Facebook users.  It was posted by Reynold Villania, a lawyer in the PNP Legal Service.  It is a question about the use of force where a policeman on duty killed a suspect.  Atty Villania is challenging users for their opinion on what is the correct course of action for the Chief of Police:  to file or not to file a case against his personnel because the family of the suspect is complaining.  Reading the diverse opinions on the topic betrays the fact that the PNP, up to this point, has no cut and dried regulations regarding officer related shooting!

Here are real life examples:

Exhibit A:  December 5, 2010, Quezon City

On December 5, 2010 at about 2 am at Barangay Escopa 3, Quezon City, PO1 Jupiter Duruin of Police Station 8, QCPD responded to a request for police assistance from Barangay Ex-O Cesar Torres of Bgy Escopa 3, QC.  He was with several other police officers on board a mobile car.  During the response, a commotion ensured and PO1 Duruin fired his M16 rifle, killing somebody and wounding another.  In the aftermath, his Station Commander together with the Chief, CIDU, QCPD presented him for inquest where the prosecutor affirmed his “arrest.”  Fortunately for PO1 Duruin, a concerned Pulis na Pogi called up the attention of the Chief Inquest, Atty Maynard Bautista, who reversed the decision of his inquest prosecutor on duty, setting the poor PO1 free and converting the case into a PI instead of inquest.  Mind you, the officers involved in this incident are still active right now!

But others are not as fortunate as PO1 Duruin.

Exhibit B: April 1, 2011, Batangas

In the wee hours of April 1, 2011, five elements of San Juan Municipal Police Station, Batangas Provincial Police Office, under the direct supervision of their Chief of Police, responded to an Alarm 10-10 in Barangay Laiya, San Juan, Batangas.  The suspected troublemaker is SPO1 Alejandro Samarita, a senior PNCO of the Station who was drunk at that time.  To make the long story short, when the responding policemen arrived, SPO1 Samarita shot them, hitting one of them in the leg.  Of course the responding policemen retaliated and killed SPO1 Samarita.  Since that night, the responding policemen went to jail and are still in jail up to this writing.  What happened then when the responding policemen are in uniform and on board a patrol car while SPO1 Samarita is drunk and off duty?  Ask their Provincial Director then who is now a general!  At the very least, the PNP can immediately conduct a review of this case and set things right!

So why is this topic included in this article about patrolling?  Well, I believe that this is one of the biggest factors influencing the actions of patrollers during crunch time.  And let me repeat it:  it is during these crunch time that the PNP gets from zero to hero and vice versa.  With PCOs, like these, how can you blame policemen who has this attitude:

And for the subordinates of ignorant PCOs who presented their personnel for inquest, can you blame if PNCOs have this attitude when asked to conduct a police response:  “Kaw na lang pumunta sir.  Baka makapatay ako jan, makulong pa ako.  Si Piskal [name of fiscal] ang duty ngayon.  Sigurado iswak ako nun kung mainquest ako.”  Here is one possible indicator:

Kawit policemen may have thought, "E kung mapatay ko ang killer na yan at ako naman ang ipakulong ng mga Boss ko?"  But I do hope that this is not the case although according to Atty Villania, this happens all the time!

So what do I propose regarding this matter?  Foremost, let me categorically say that I agree with The Chief 100% that “Ang pulis ay dapat wala sa police station.”  (Sipsip ba?)  But more than their presence in the streets, policemen must make their presence felt and the best barometer is the number of warrantless arrests that they make.  And unit performance lies on the PCOs especially the Station Commanders or the Chiefs of Police.

I suggest that The Chief use "patrol experience" as barometer in selecting and appointing unit commanders especially in Metro Manila and key cities nationwide.  And there is only one document that can prove experience:  THE AFFIDAVIT OF ARREST PERSONALLY SIGNED BY THE PCO HIMSELF.  In the normal course of things, PNCOs do the arresting and the signing of these AAs.  But for a PCO, if he strives hard enough to be with his men on the streets, time will inevitably come that a sensitive case will crop up such as when the suspects are prominent people that it is mandatory for the PCOs to sign the AA jointly with his men even if only to assure them that “Kasama nyo ako sa kasong ito at wala tayong iwanan.”

As a step further, I highly recommend that unit commanders (PCP, COP, STACOM) with ranks of Superintendent and below be required to PERSONALLY sign at least one affidavit every 15 days.  If they fail to do this, they should be relieved from their post without further notice.

How will this affect patrolling then?

Forcing Station Commanders and COPs to PERSONALLY sign affidavits of arrest will force them to actually patrol the streets together with their men.  The current lack of PCO presence in actual patrol operations is the main reason why policemen cannot be seen patrolling their beats nowadays: most of the time, they are just copying what their superiors do which is magkamot ng bayag sa kanilang aircon na opisina.  But this will change once this standard is forced upon them.  The COPs/SCs will be forced to walk the beats together with their men, otherwise, they will not catch anyone.  If they will continue to sit on their butts in their offices and just direct their men to catch criminals and they will just wait at the station and sign the affidavits of arrest, there is no assurance that their men will improve their efficiency.  It is not their neck on the chopping board after all! 

Some quarters may say that using the affidavits of arrests as standard of performance may force policemen to arbitrarily arrest anybody just to cope up with the quota.  Yes this is possible but nothing prevents the aggrieved parties from seeking redress in the numerous disciplinary authorities that exercise oversight functions over the PNP.  They can haul such policemen to the Ombudsman, IAS, PLEB, and many other forums.  Thus, policemen cannot just arrest anyone on their whims and caprices.  This standard will force them to toe the line even more.

For those who are applying to be Station Commanders and Chiefs of Police, I suggest that The Chief require them to present at least 5 affidavits of arrest executed over the course of their career.  This will force PCOs to get positions where they can actually walk the streets and get a chance to literally run after criminals.  This will eliminate the very common scenario nowadays that an officer, just because he is the golfing buddy of the boss, suddenly becomes a field commander.  There are many mid-level supervisors now that have this "qualification."  And they wonder why they are at a loss if riding in tandem criminals strike with impunity in their areas?

Simple?  The PNP can try it!  But the top leadership should not be surprised that even at the top echelons now, they will find generals who had not even seen a court in session, much less being part of it as a witness or as an accused!

Next:  Street Smarts:  How the lack of it led to some totally insane directives and policies in the past!

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