The Police Department has hit the wall. Thanks to Manwel Mallia, Carmelo Abela and Michael Farrugia; thanks rather to Joseph Muscat and Keith Schembri, Malta’s only law enforcement agency and in practice the prosecutor of people charged with crimes is being consumed in flames of ignominy.

It’s commonplace to remember there are some perfectly diligent, honest, loyal and hardworking police officers. Of course there are. But they wear the same uniforms as the bad guys and we cannot tell them apart.

Bent cops have been burying crimes under the carpet for years, even their own. And the only ones telling us who should have handcuffs removed from their belts and put on their wrists are other cops.

Who do we trust? Who do we believe? How do we know all suspicions are being checked out? Here’s a cliche’ for you: who watches the watchdogs?

This is very serious. The biggest problems our country face stem from our failure of half way decent law enforcement. We are earning our keep from “high risk” businesses like gambling, blockchain, banking and so on. Without proper policing this is like opening a nightclub with no security guards or a bank branch without a guard.

Last year we advertised to the world that the mafia has infiltrated the government of this country. Now we’re advertising to the world that our police force is presently completely taken up arresting its own members. We may as well put up a sign at all major airports saying “Malta: Open for Criminals. The Police Won’t Mind.”

The ethical breakdown of over-declaring overtime claims suggests far worse problems. If we cannot rely on the police to make a judgement call about doing the right thing even if the wrong thing pays more, why should we rely on them to chase other criminals?

Again, it pains me to imagine what honest policemen must be feeling reading this. They are being dragged through the mud and the slime by their corrupt bosses and their corrupt colleagues. The pride in their uniform has been sullied by the political intervention of a succession of government ministers acting on the mafia’s instructions to make sure law enforcement is a nuisance but not a credible inhibitor of organised crime.

Repubblika today called for an independent and public inquiry into the conduct of the police. The resignations of Michael Farrugia and Carmelo Abela should not wait for the outcome of that inquiry. And Lawrence Cutajar’s iced bun should be immediately taken away from him. The cleanup must start now.

It may not feel that way but this should be on top of the national political agenda. Political parties – both of them – will worry that a mass culling of bent cops will impact their voting base. It’s not likely that either PL or PN will be insisting that we get to the bottom of this. If we do, many people risk losing their jobs. Many of them will be lining up outside their MP’s office demanding they are reinstated.

Indeed many of the corrupt cops we already know of had indeed already been reinstated by ‘injustice reversal’ schemes introduced by Labour Ministers for cronies squeezed out of the more series version of the Police Department of the years before 2013.

Again we have to wonder if political parties are up to setting the moral standard in the public sector department that probably needs it most.