I am definitely not surprised that women online are currently sharing messages and stories about how they were ignored by the police when they filed reports on sexual harassment, stalking and outright abuse. As a result of the femicide of Paulina Dembska, many women on social media are angrily sharing stories online on every single time they were refused or turned away by a police officer. Adding more fuel to this anger the police have asked women to file reports of sexual harassment by the murderer of Paulina after the murder took place.
As a previous government executive, I can tell you with confidence that the worse public department and institution in terms of incompetence is without any shadow of a doubt the Malta Police Force. The thing is this. The Malta Police Force attracts the losers and the sloths due to the ideal economic privilege of retiring after 25 years of service. The salaries are shit but the reality is that many of the men and women in the police corps do not have any particular skills which will enable them to find good jobs and that is why they join the police in the first place. The best that these police officers can do is to be a police officer after having been trained to do so and it’s a convenient job where you don’t need to spend many years wrecking your brain studying difficult stuff to do it. It’s the most accessible career path anyone can take. It’s even easier than the armed forces because the training is less intense.
This is not my opinion. I am sorry to disappoint you. This is reality. And this is not what I like or what I don’t like either. I have many friends who are police officers who are good people and they believe in law and order, public duty, and the upholding of order and peace in society. I am sure that Police Commissioner Angelo Gafa is a principled man who has studied and worked hard to climb the ranks because he sincerely believes in what he is doing. And the there are many intelligent people, good and hard-working people who serve as police officers, and from here I salute them with great respect. But the sheer and absolute reality is that hadn’t been for the police force, many men and women would be flipping burgers at MacDonald’s instead. I don’t have a problem with that. I too was a burger flipper at some point in my life. The problem I have is that these men and women are not making an effort. And with a 25 year retirement scheme, they are not incentivised to try and be better.
The window of the benefit of the doubt for the recent Minister of Interior, Byron Camilleri and Police Commissioner Angelo Gafa is fastly closing down. The government has failed to usher in a new programme of re-organisation for the police force which would have seen it develop into a more efficient force. The problem lies within the Ministry of Home Affairs more than the police force but Gafa, likes it or not will have to face the music for the lack of reforms in the police. I acknowledge the fact that it is ridiculous and absurd that Gafa is paid a salary the equivalent of a government arts executive, and many police officers who risk their lives do so at a pittance, however, we can not deny the reality as well that the police force is also made up of people without any dignity and sense of public duty who failed us over and over again and keep failing us consistently. Some of these failures are even spectacularly unashamedly public, such as the recent police officer who is refusing to testify against a gang of criminals who were involved in a gunfight with the police while trying to rob a bank on the grounds that he has PTSD about it. It’s the same exact attitude one would have when flipping burgers at a multinational corporation: you don’t really give a damn about your job, you only go there for the monthly end paycheque.