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Private rewards for police may miss the mark

Update: July, 17/2015 - 09:28

by Hoang Anh

A mass murder in the southern province of Binh Phuoc on July 7 shook the nation. Six members of a wealthy business family were killed during the night. Only an 18-month-old baby was spared.

Police wasted no time. Two young men were quickly taken into custody. One of them was an ex-boyfriend of the daughter in the family. The two later confessed to the horrendous crime and were later charged.with murder and robbery.

While the nation praised police efforts, a businessman decided to reward the police team that caught them with a reward of VND1 billion (US$46,000). The reward was unprecedented. It is usually the State that offers rewards for tips that help solve cases.

This writer feels the money could have been put to better use. The trial hasn't even started and the two suspects, no matter how strong the evidence might appear against them, are innocent until proven guilty. Perhaps the donor should have waited until a judgment was made.

The police did not conduct investigations hoping to gain a reward. It was their responsibility. They had already received a small reward of VND50 million (US$2300) from the State in recognition for their contribution in safeguarding social order and security.

Two weeks ago, four members of a poor family were also murdered in the northern province of Nghe An. Despite rigorous efforts by local and central police as well as border patrol forces, the case seems to have hit a roadblock.

Both cases were investigated vigorously, but the billion dong reward to solve the first mass murder could create the impression that killing members of a wealthy family is treated more seriously by police. Those familiar with both cases would know that this is untrue.

The murdered family in Nghe An lived in a remote and isolated area and there wasn't much for police to work on. It took a week for locals to discover the bodies and report the murder. By that time, it was already too difficult to gather crucial evidence that may have helped in finding the culprit(s).

However, the lack of reward money may be perceived by the public as the reason many murders go unsolved. On the other hand, the offering of rewards may also raise questions among police themselves, especially those who put themselves in danger every day while carrying out their duties.

There is an increasing number of incidents in which smuggling gangs and drug traffickers arm themselves with weapons. They are ready to fire at policemen and other border patrol forces to escape or protect their contraband. Surely they deserve the best support society can give.

In light of such concerns, private rewards could be donated to funds for crime prevention. But individuals and organisations may find better ways to prevent crime.

They should make it a priority to provide law-enforcement agencies with information or assist them in crime fighting and investigation. A detective with Ha Noi's anti-drug operations said he was once looking for a house to monitor a drug dealing gang's operations in a shady neighbourhood.

He said most people were afraid to help him in case they got in trouble with the gang. Some even tried to protect their criminal neighbours. What they did not realise was that by letting their neighbours sell drugs, all kind of criminals would frequent the neighbourhood and worse, their children could easily become drug victims.

Spare funds can also be used by the public to form Neighbourhood Watch groups to patrol districts watching for crime in action. Families can also help fight crime by helping children overcome difficulties in life without resorting to violence and crimes.

Crime prevention and fighting shouldn't be shouldered by law-enforcement agencies alone. Every member of society should join in. — VNS

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