In our Selected Exhortations category, we republish interesting stuff such as must-read articles and essays not originally written exclusively for the blawg, and which have come to our attention. Please feel free to email [email protected] if you would like to reproduce your writing, but first follow our Writer’s Guide here. This article was previously published in LoyarBurok’s monthly column, “The Monkeysuit Protocol” in August Man magazine’s September 2011 edition.
Barney, your girlfriend’s ex visits just to knuckle-dust your face. Some stalker leaves salacious graffiti on your front door. Not long after, Betsy, your trusty mode of transport disappears from under your nose. Maybe it’s karma. Maybe it’s all just Barney. Whatever it is, it might explain why 1 in 4 Malaysians will probably have filed a police report at some point in their lives. Or why it’s become a national sport in recent times, given the incessant news of reports and counter-reports made by our politicians.
If you’ve ever tried to lodge one, however, you may’ve experienced a few inconveniences. Like police officers refusing to accept your report and/or telling you to go try a different station elsewhere. Or reports that mysteriously get archived and aren’t followed up with action for a good few years.
OK, WHAT CAN I DO?
Well, quite a few things when it comes to this wild goose chase we know as the business of lodging a police report. Start by remembering this – the police are duty-bound to record any complaint into a written statement, noting down the time and date of the complaint in their register of cases as they do. It helps to prepare a statement before entering a police station. Unless, of course, you fancy life in permanent slow motion once you’re there. Have it printed out from your computer and signed for verification, although this is better done in the presence of the police officer you’re dealing with. Meanwhile, make and bring along a copy of documents that may assist in their investigation or in verifying your information – you know, videos, audio, pictures, etc. (Note: Original copies are always best!)
Secondly, the police must receive your complaint regardless of your location. The yoga studio included. That’s because the law doesn’t insist that police reports be made only at the station.
The Law on Logistics: The Lawyer Speaketh
The law deems that any complaint received outside the police station as being received in a police station. So theoretically, they should even take your statement while you’re in the middle of a complicated ‘Yoganidrasana’ pose. Realistically, however, they’re under no obligation to help should you find yourself stuck and cramping in that position.
If the police refuse to take your statement in such cases, then they are practically screwing up on the job and deserve a report made against them, too.
SO, WHAT HAPPENS WITH COMPLAINTS MADE OUTSIDE THE STATION?
The officer must quickly record your name and address plus the date and time of your complaint, and then pass along the details to an officer in charge of a police station (OCP) or any officer responsible for receiving complaints. The signed complaint will then be documented and recorded in the logbook.
Now, whether you make a report outside a station or inside one, it’s important to know that an officer isn’t allowed to dissuade or prevent you from lodging one. So excuses like “Sistem komputer rosak kerana tikus gigit dawai.” are well, just excuses.
If you so much as feel wafts of inertia coming at you, it’s time to record the officer’s ID number and name (check his or her nametag) so you can decide whether to sue that police officer and the entire police force for not doing their job.
By now, you must be wondering: why bother lodging reports seeing as the experience is so often an exercise in futility? Like when you lose a car and all they do is tell you that Betsy’s not special as lots of Tricias and Yolandas get stolen all the time and Betsy’s probably halfway to Thailand by now, destined to be dismantled if not already sold off elsewhere – you know the stuff that gives you a migraine? Plus who wants to make a police report if the investigating officers eventually avoid your calls? And you’re kept in the dark about the status of their investigations? (Because, most likely, there wasn’t one to begin with?)
APPLYING PRESSURE ON THE PO
Well, there’s some good news in this department because you’ve a right of inquiry – though limited – that’s worthwhile pursuing. This means you can demand for a report on the status of the on-going investigation. There are just three preconditions to be fulfilled.
Firstly, your complaint must involve a seizable offence i.e the more serious offences. So forget about inquiring if your complaint involves the mysterious disappearance of your pet duck, although Donald might have really been seized.
Secondly, you can only make this inquiry 4 weeks after filing your report.
Finally, despite having the patience of a monk to pursue this route, the police could say ‘No’ to revealing the status if the investigation or prosecution in court might be ‘adversely affected’. So, you’ve just got to pray that this last exception will be sparingly used.
If the OCP doesn’t respond within the 4-week timeframe, write directly to the Attorney General’s Chambers about it. Again, make sure you include the Investigating Officer’s name, phone number, your police report and copies of any helpful documents.
The Attorney General’s Powers: The Lawyer Speaketh
The AG’s Chambers can direct the OCP to provide you with the status report of investigation or any information thus far. Arrangements will be made either to send a copy directly to you or through the OCPD.
Now, here’s the part where it’s limited: There are no provisions to account for the situation in which the AG’s Chambers fail to hold the OCP accountable. Mm-hmm. So this appears to be your last stop. We suggest however that you continue hounding the AG’s Chambers until they request that you cease or Betsy miraculously turns up in your garage with Donald behind the wheel, whichever comes first.
LIBERAVI ANIMAM MEAM.