Monday, January 19, 2015

Their Strength is their gun

I had 3 experiences with the police officers. These experiences have made me ponder on the safety of citizens. The leadership of the police force is now involved in partisan politics rather than equip its officers to perform their duties of enforcing law and order. 

Scene 1
I was stopped by a police officer who requested I tip her to celebrate the holidays. She was not at the checkpoint to prevent crime or  ensure  law and order. She was there as  a beggar in uniform. I smiled and told her I did not have anything and she said :"You know I am in uniform", I can collect your bag. It would look good on me" (read as: "better comply or this conversation will take another turn"). I smiled again and told her not today, next time.

Scene 2
Police officers in an unmarked car accosted a friend and I. We parked and they came out with their guns ready for action. One of the officers requested for the papers of the car. Friend,who was compliant and polite, handed over the car documents and the officer checked it. They asked some questions and friend answered their questions convincingly and confidently. Friend's manner and way with words  left Police officers  stuttering and explaining  why we were stopped and how we should not be offended. I left the scene thinking if we had stolen the car, we would have gotten away. Police officers need to move from "happy weekend sir" and "anything for us" to being able to hold a conversation with citizens without being forceful, threatening and unreasonable or timid and docile. As we drove off, I also thought considering the way the officers that stopped us were dressed and their carriage, they could be police officers by day and robbers by night

Scene 3
I met a group of local policemen in a State and hope arose that community policing might work in Nigeria because  the officers will be familiar with the people and terrain, thus making prevention and solving crimes easier. However, my hope was short lived. On interaction with some of them, all they discussed was how get by. If  someone had come to report a crime, they would not know what to do. They probably address issues with their native reasoning. 

The police force is the first level of security people have. 312, 669, 237 ( recurrent expenditure covering personnel and overheads)- 229 billion for salaries and 489 million for training has been allocated to police formations in the 2015 budget and 17,000,000,000 for capital projects. Hopefully, these monies if appropriated will be used for the stated purposes especially in the area of training.


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