A reminder: Cops can’t read crooks’ mind

December 04, 2018

MY friend, Philippine National Police spokesman, Chief Superintendent Benigno ‘Bong’ Durana Jr. hit the nail right on the head when he said that  although police are going all out to stop the prevalence of street crimes particularly during the so-called ‘Ber months,’ they simply cannot ‘read the minds’ of would-be criminals in order to stop them before they commit a particular crime.

May I remind the public that the best thing our policemen can do is to address the ‘opportunity and instrumentality’ of criminals but not their ‘motive.’ It means that police operations are in place to thwart or prevent crimes from happening and at the same time arrest the ‘instruments of criminality’ like guns, bladed weapons and other instrument that could be used as a tool in crime.

However, our cops are not ‘mind-readers’ who can penetrate into the brains of the public and immediately identify and arrest anybody who is out to commit a crime. This is very same reason why the public must be constantly reminded to  always be on their toes and don’t give any criminal the chance to hit them.

It’s very simple: If you leave your gates and doors open, you attract would-be thieves. If you leave your bag, laptop computer, mobile phones and other belongings in your car and park in a dimly-lit place at night, you open yourself to ‘Bukas-Kotse’ gang members. If you use your cell phone or wear expensive jewelry in the street, you make yourself an open target of snatchers. Kindly bear in mind that criminals will always take advantage of the absence of a policeman knowing that not all corners of the streets are being surrounded by cops.

Last Monday, I was listening whenPNP chief, General Oscar Albayalde fully recognized the  public opinion of greater feeling of safety and security and lesser fear of crime expressed in the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey.

In a press briefing at Camp Crame, the PNP chief said that the SWS survey conducted on September 15-23, 2018 showed an improvement in the feeling of safety and security of citizens against property crimes like burglary, as fear of break-ins fell 3 percent from 55 percent in June 2018 to 52 percent in September 2018.

“This can only indicate in an expression of greater public confidence on the peace and order environment. While fear of street crime remains consistent at 46 percent since March and June 2018, this is the lowest since the 42 percent posted in April 2016,” Gen. Albayalde added.

‘Ber months,’ the top cop admitted have really triggered a slight increase in street crimes in the country although all measures aimed at further reducing them to a minimum level are already in place.

The measures include the stepped-up anti-criminality program of the PNP thru its Enhanced Managing Police Operations being implemented to thwart and arrest criminality in the streets thru round-the-clock patrols, deployment of uniformed and plainclothes officers in known crime-prone areas and enhancing the PNP partnership with all stakeholders specifically local government units to help arrest crime.                              

Add to that the continuing police operations to account for all wanted persons  and firearms and other deadly weapons that could be used as an ‘instrument’ to carry out street crimes. Historically, ‘Ber months’ is a period being taken advantage of by criminals engaged in robbery-holdup, pickpocketing, ‘Salisi,’ and other modus operandi knowing that Filipinos earn or carry more money to buy Christmas gifts or food for their tables. Thieves are known for preying on people who bring their year-end bonuses and money saved for the year for their shopping spree.

However, the PNP chief has his own explanation on the SWS survey. “I would like to point out that victimization by common crimes reported in surveys is usually much higher than the number of crimes actually reported to the police, this explains the perennial disparity in numbers between surveys and police records.  But proportionately, the survey results are consistent with the crime data generated by the PNP from reported crime incidents recorded in police blotters,” Albayalde said.

According to the top cop, the same public confidence indicated in the surveys is a factor that  adds to accurate crime reporting because more victims are now coming forward to report crime.

“This allows us to get a better and more realistic picture of the crime environment.

Overall, we take this empirical measure of public perception of experience with crime as an indication of greater feeling of safety from crime, and subsequently lesser fear of crime,” he said.

The PNP chief said that in their  analysis of the national crime environment, the 10-month Total Crime Volume decreased 13.06 percent in January thru October 2018 as compared with the Total Crime Volume during the same period in 2017.

Index Crimes which are the indicators that develop the perception of fear of crime slumped 30.90 percent over the past 10 months or 28,749 fewer crime incidents than in 2017, he said.

Crime against persons and crime against property both registered double-digit decreases with robbery and theft posting the highest rate of decline at 33.98 percent and 34.64 percent respectively, he added.

“Let me emphasize that there are certain crime types that are “seasonal” in terms of frequency which become more prevalent when the element of opportunity is present such as during the holiday season when the objects of crime abound,” Gen. Albayalde said.

But in order to break the cycle, he said they are reinforcing focused police operations against street crime and other forms of criminal activity that are prevalent during the holiday season. These include non-contact crime committed through cyberspace and telecommunication platforms which are fast becoming notorious forms of crime against property.

According to the PNP chief, the slight increase in the number of Filipinos who fell victims to crime over the past three months as the most recent SWS survey showed can be attributed to the holiday season and a greater confidence of citizens to report crime to the police.

Gen. Albayalde explained that there are certain crime types that are “seasonal” in terms of frequency which become more prevalent when the element of opportunity is present such as during the holiday season when the objects of crime abound.              The Chief PNP issued the statement amid the latest SWS survey on crime victimization during the 3rd quarter of 2018 which suggest that crime directly affected 6.1 percent of the population, representing 1.4 million Filipinos in July thru September this year.