Police Public Relations

Led by their commissioners and their capable PIO, Ahmed Shiyam, it was a full house of about 60 top cops for public relations training at the headquarters of the Maldives police force. They’ve improved the image of their department since the civil unrest in 2007 that led to the push for democracy here. However, since the new constitution was adopted, political infighting has prevented the parliament from passing the legal reforms that are needed to battle the huge drug problem. Cops do battle with organized crime, only to see the courts set the prime suspects free. Journalists are afraid to cover the story because the drug dealers have been known to show up at media outlets to threaten the reporters. One was stabbed. Citizens are afraid to speak up. The cops do a great job of releasing video of their anti-drug operations and other activities. But they also have a tendency to herd journalists into a media area when they are conducting an operation and ignore reporters’ deadlines. Pro-active publicity for crime prevention and more cooperation would benefit everyone. This session was a good step in the right direction and we’ll try to have another one before I leave. It turns out that a suspected organized crime house near my hotel was raided a few nights ago, after a string of stabbings in the surrounding blocks. About 80 suspects were rounded up over a three day period, but the big question is whether the courts will do anything to keep the troublemakers off the streets for good.