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To serve the public . . . but how far?

PIG PEN - with CAPO Headquarters Chief Inspector Raymond Ng Wai-ming

I received a call in my office. The caller claimed to be a dentist. He appreciated the effort of Waterfront Division in recovering his lost cheque, but it was less than perfect because police refused to transfer it to the station near his So Uk Estate clinic for collection. Nevertheless, he emphasised he had no complaints against police.

While explaining to him courteously, I groaned deep in my heart: "Has he gone too far?". Although I felt the request was a bit too demanding, I wrote him a thank-you letter and forwarded his opinion to Support Wing for consideration.

Reasonable or not, requests from the public must be respected. Of course, we are more than happy to follow these up. But even if a request is unjustified, we cannot just ignore it or adopt an unfriendly attitude. Indeed, public expectation has become more demanding in the last 10-odd years.

People are no longer wary of police like in the old saying "don't go to a police station or a court when you are alive, and don't go to hell when you are dead". Citizens nowadays are demanding explanations and justification for police action. It is not uncommon to see officers being questioned or challenged during their routine duties like ID checks and traffic work.

During one of my complaint investigation briefings at a District, an officer said: "Both sides are at fault in a lot of complaints. It shouldn't just be officers who are subjected to briefing and counselling. What about the unreasonable citizen?"

His remarks received wide support by many colleagues at the briefing. This seemed to be a justifiable comment and I found it difficult to offer a sensible reply at the time. But recently, I found the root of the issue.

Recently, I went to a summer camp with my wife and son in Guangzhou Huangpu Military School. A fresh graduate teacher, in the closing ceremony said: "I learned how to adapt to the environment. The filthy toilet, cramped accommodation and plain food were a reality. I could not change the environment but could change myself'.

We as police officers are also learning to adapt to the changing work environment. Hong Kong is a dynamic city and we can't just work in our traditional way.

Society has changed and we must change. As officers of the 21st century, we are more than crime-busters.

We must be more accommodating and tolerant. What about you?

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