Earlier this month, the Independent Police Complaints Council endorsed the findings of the Complaints Against Police Office investigation into the abuse of officers' powers during last year's visit by Vice Premier Li Keqiang.
All nine complaints were upheld, and further investigation of six more ordered.
The CAPO report criticized frontline officers involved in the so-called "black shadow" incident, in which they were accused of trying to block a TV cameraman from filming a protester wearing a "Vindicate June 4" T-shirt as he was being carried away by the men in blue during Li's visit to Laguna City.
The report was a stinging rebuke of a half-baked statement Commissioner of Police Andy Tsang Wai-hung gave to the Legislative Council panel inquiry, in that one of his officers was reacting instinctively to a "black shadow" running towards him.
The issue warrants a deeper examination. Tsang's explanation caused an uproar because it was simply unbelievable. One reason why he may have believed such a version of events could be that he failed to fully examine the evidence before taking it as gospel.
As a leader, one is often in a predicament when required to choose between accepting a story from your colleague or from an outsider. The difficulty is compounded if one knows that to disbelieve would cause serious consequences for your colleague.
This probably explains why Tsang refuses to apologize, saying what has happened cannot be undone. But he also said he will give the matter deep reflection - which is tantamount to him accepting criticism.
Whether Tsang learns from it, time will tell. However, too many apologies will only create low morale - not good in any organization and even less so for the police.
Having served in a force with low morale and self- esteem, and then one with high morale and international recognition, I would not wish to see our officers walk with bowed heads, having to look over their shoulders. Such a unit would not keep our city one of the safest in the world.
Yes, we need a police force that is tough, steadfast, professional and loyal. But it also needs to be fair, reasonable, just and honest in its dealings with the public.
Any thoughts harbored or actions taken suggesting the force is a self-centered unit that closes ranks when threatened will not endear police to the public.
Nor will it foster acceptance and understanding by the media, which nowadays act as the voice of the people.
So, the police will now have to rebuild its relationship with the public and media. This will not be an easy task - given the current state of mistrust between the parties.
A good first step might be for each to reach out to the other to extend the hand of friendship.
Nothing is better than personal relationships built on trust.
It worked for a lot of us "old timers."
JS Lam served with Hong Kong police - `Asia's Finest' - for 32 years, reaching the rank of senior superintendent before retiring in 1996.