Notoriously Corrupt Sri Lanka Police Force Arrests Citizens For Pretending To Bribe A Cardboard Cutout Cop

from the really-working-hard-to-push-back-on-public-perception dept

Sri Lanka roads might be getting a little safer. Maybe. Along with raising fines for speeding, police agencies are also deploying fake cops. Cardboard cutouts of officers have been placed alongside roads as a deterrent.

These cardboard replicants may be these agencies’ only honest cops. The State Department’s report on Sri Lanka says police in the country routinely engage in arbitrary arrests and “harass civilians with impunity.” This harassment often takes the form of soliciting bribes. Combine the two and you have officers wandering around with iron fists and open palms. Another report says the bribery is a two-way street, with officers sometimes paying off citizens to purchase their silence about other illegal police activities.

The problem with solicited bribes is large enough the government has set up a portal for citizens to file complaints about bribes solicited/paid. Fortunately, anonymity is an option. Unfortunately, the government runs the website so collected data may help pinpoint where the complaints are originating from.

So, it naturally follows that Sri Lankans — a third of which believe the nation’s police are corrupt — are toying with the cardboard cops. In a less corrupt society, this would have led to nothing but some fun had by all. Since Sri Lanka is notoriously corrupt, it has led to this instead:

Sri Lankan police have arrested two people who posted a Facebook video showing one of them pretending to give a bribe to a traffic police cutout.

In the footage, a motorcyclist is seen offering money to the life-size figure of an officer with a speed gun in the northern town of Vavuniya.

The man in the video and his friend who filmed it have been released on bail.

They are charged with damaging public property, and humiliating and creating a bad public image of the police.

Satire is dead. Or if it isn’t dead, it’s being detained and charged.

The obvious point here is the police’s bad public image has been created by the police. When citizens are filming what everyone’s thinking, the best course of action would be to laugh it off and maybe say a few words no one will believe about “bad apples.” Instead, law enforcement has decided to create an international incident by arresting two people having a little fun with stereotypes. Having a stereotypical reaction isn’t going to do much to buff out the dents in law enforcement’s “bad public image.”

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Comments on “Notoriously Corrupt Sri Lanka Police Force Arrests Citizens For Pretending To Bribe A Cardboard Cutout Cop”

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17 Comments
Richard M (profile) says:

US cops as well

There are plenty of examples of cops here in the US arresting people for making them look bad as well. Usually the DA takes drops the charges fairly quickly but even so the people arrested have to spend some time in jail and everything that goes with it. And then we have those times when the DA doubles down with the cops and it takes a long court case to tell everyone what we already knew. Which is that the whole arrest was unconstitutional and usually the tax payers have to write a check to cover the stupidity.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: US cops as well

"There are plenty of examples of cops here in the US…"

I got that far into your comment and my minds eye started to create a series of cardboard cutouts of US police officers who were more ethical than actual US police officers (by merely not acting) who were then pissed that their image was being topped by cardboard cutouts.

Then I finished your comment and you are right, which doesn’t mean my thought was wrong.

That One Guy (profile) says:

The king's clothing has ALWAYS been majestic

They are charged with damaging public property, and humiliating and creating a bad public image of the police.

If your response to someone trying to ‘bribe’ a cardboard cutout of you is to act as though people will see that and think ‘yeah, that’s about right’ rather than ‘what an odd, unrealistic joke’, you’ve all but openly admitted what people already think of you, making it clear who’s the real threat to your ‘public image’.

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