Waitresses are beaten up, one woman is pulled out of the restaurant by her hair and dragged into a police car. She is held captive for six hours and raped. Police brutality? No, a gang that dressed up as police officers and parked in front of the restaurant in a car with police lights. The first thing the ‘police’ did as they entered the restaurant was ask the customers for their identification. Nobody asked the ‘police’ to show their identity first, nobody decided to call the real police when the violence got out of hand. It just shows, say the experts, how little faith people have in the police force. Asking the real police to identify themselves can cause trouble and even lead to violence, so people are reluctant to ask. And worse still, there were probably people in the restaurant who thought the thugs were really policemen. In short, the Turkish police have an image problem.
The government calls on civilians not to hesitate to ask police for their identification, and says it’s working on a police ID that cannot be falsified. Another problem: it costs only about 85 ytl (about 45 euros) to buy a fake police uniform. A uniform that cannot be faked is as impossible as a police ID that cannot be faked, of course. So in the end it’s the real police force that has to solve the problem. If they show irreproachable behaviour, the public will call emergency number 115 immediately if they see a policeman misbehaving, because a police officer who disregards the rules must be a villain! But that will take some time, because the behaviour of real police is not really improving, as was reported this week by Human Rights Watch. In police stations and prisons, mistreatment and torture is becoming less common, but police action is getting more violent on the streets, for example. Or in restaurants. Oh, sorry, no, they were impostors.