KOTA KINABALU: New Sabah police commissioner Datuk Hazani Ghazali aims to promote a "public-friendly" approach at police stations statewide when dealing with the public.
Speaking to reporters after paying a courtesy visit to caretaker Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal on Monday (Aug 24), he explained that police needed to use their discretion in serving the people who are currently struggling due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The former Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) commander who took over last week from Datuk Zaini Jass who joined Bukit Aman administration division, said they could adopt a "warning first before summoning" approach in some cases, such as if someone forgot to bring and wear a face mask outside.
“I presented my vision as the new police commissioner (to Shafie) where I said I will focus on integrity and accountability of higher-ranking officers in Sabah.
“Secondly, I focus on the level of service to the people. I want police stations to be more public-friendly; for example those who forgot to bring and wear a face mask, the police should warn first and let the offenders get a mask before issuing fines.
“If offenders still did not heed the advice, then we take necessary actions based on the standard operating procedure (SOP) outlined.
“Now everyone is struggling, so we have to be able to use discretion in handling and facing the pandemic together, ” he explained.
On the upcoming state polls, Hazani said police will have a briefing session with the Election Commission (EC) on Tuesday (Aug 25) to fine-tune issues related to Covid-19 standard operating procedures (SOPs) and new norms.
“Sabah police will also get manpower support from the Peninsula and Sarawak ... No exact figures right now but more than one battalion from Sarawak will be sent over here to help with the state polls, ” he added.
On the possibility of kidnap-for-ransom groups taking advantage of the busy time during the state polls to attempt cross-border crimes, Hazani admitted the risks are there but they would work with Esscom to strengthen preparedness in the east coast of Sabah.
“There were similar attempts during the past 2018 elections, but do not worry, I am from Esscom after all, and we have thwarted (attempts from) them before.
“We have Esscom intelligence working with Sabah police as well as Bukit Aman headquarters, and we have a very good rapport with the intelligence from our southern Philippines and Indonesian counterparts through the bilateral agreement, ” he assured.
During the meeting with Shafie, Hazani said he also reiterated his main fight against syndicated crimes like drugs, smuggling and black-market gambling activities.
“Sabah’s the second-highest state in the country when it comes to contraband cigarettes and alcoholic beverages.
“For drugs, Sabah is the transit hub to export out the goods to neighbouring countries. That is why I focus on the syndicated crimes, ” he said, adding that they also believed there were already drug laboratories set up in Sabah.
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