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With another quick change in leadership of the Bali Police, hardly giving newcomers time to adjust to the challenging position, the appointment this week of Totoy Herawan Indra as new chief will hopefully also see a change in some key policies.

We have argued against outgoing Bali Police chief Hadiatmoko’s controversial shoot-to-kill order that has seen some people lose their lives after police found them robbing houses. It was meant to be a deterrent in the face of a dramatic rise in burglaries in Bali and it superseded the previous shoot-to-disable policy.

Administering justice in this country is difficult enough – and tainted – without removing the universal tenet of presumption of innocence. With Hadiatmoko’s rule, Bali’s police officers became the on-the-spot judges of the perpetrators of alleged crimes, and carried out lightning sentences that could not be reversed, an extension of the capital punishment that deplorably exists in Indonesia.

It is our hope that police chief Indra will reverse this immoral policy. Giving chase to a suspected villain, his officers may indeed shoot if the person refuses to stop, but not to kill them.

As Indra takes up the job, it might be almost too much to expect that the force could be cleansed of the many problems that bedevil it and lower its image in the pubic eye. Will we one day see an end to officers’ roadside dealings with foreign tourists, which persist despite Hadiatmoko ordering his men and women not to target anyone in the hope of personal gain? Will we see an accountable police, and one that takes reports and does the follow-up legwork? And will one day traffic police smooth out snarls at junctions, instead of causing more chaos?

Bali has in recent years become a target of criminal gangs, who see rich pickings in the island’s thriving tourism industry and growing population of expatriates whom they perceive to be wealthy. In this respect, a greater deployment of police to patrol tourism and residential areas, especially in the south but also elsewhere, is urgently needed.

Simply talking of change and issuing orders that are ignored will not solve anything.

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