In the first series we looked at recruitment as the foundation of entry into the POLICE FORCE and the most critical part and point of being part of police. Once it’s gotten wrong the entire process is messed up. The part two reviewed the relationship between Training School/Colleges, the Trainers and Trainees. It was seen that any serious organization or institution places premium on induction (Training) that ushers in the new intakes or staff. Availability of tools and capacity guarantees smooth take off. In both series, we offered feasible and practicable suggestions that could change the narratives.
TRAINING AND RETRAINING
Part two recognized training as an act of teaching and transferring knowledge and skills for development, building capacity and capabilities, instilling organizational culture, values and planting loyalty. Can you imagine what it will be like handing over uniforms to recruits, decorated with guns and subsequently post them to locations. That will be catastrophic to both the new policemen and the society and that underscores the imperativeness of not just mere training but quality training.
In this section we are looking at Training and Retraining after commissioning.
WHAT ARE THE ISSUES AGAINST THE POLICE FORCE FROM PUBLIC PERCEPTION:
1. Human rights violations;
2. Accidental discharges;
3. Poor Police – Public Relations;
5. Incessant harassment of civilians when attached to VIP or Moneybags;
6. Involvement of some policemen in criminal activities like robbery etc; and
7. Discomfort over poor rapid response.
Every Training activity is geared towards achieving a set objective which is often a gap and subset of a challenge been encountered by organizations. A good Training should be able to identity core areas of challenges and then prepare men, materials, money and message to deliver appropriately. A targeted Training achieves targeted results beneficial to the entire system.
If an organization keep witnessing problems within its system say for example in Accounts or IT units, the best Training will be to get Experts or Consultants to strengthen out the issues by Training operators in that department on appropriate applications and techniques. In other words, while some Trainings are internal, some Trainings could be crossbreed or exclusively external.
Absence of Training breeds complacency, docility, incompetence, obsolescence, avoidable errors and poor public representations.
1. Human Right Violations (HRV): These are acts that revolves around unlawful killings, torture and other ill treatments. It widens the gap between police and policed. The efforts of police hierarchy to address this aspect of disconnect was escalated by Human Rights Activists and confirmed especially through the establishment of Human Rights Desks. Mr. Mohammed Abubakar, the former IGP during his tenure owned up that HRV was a big challenge and promised to step up Trainings for officers on that while assuring that it will soon be a thing of the past. More than seven years after making that statement, under successive IGPs, with the establishment of the Desks there’s no appreciable impact. Reports abound in respect of this but it’s indeed one area Police must focus on to redeem its battered image. The cases recorded under the disbanded SARS came to mind. They were constantly on news for the wrong reasons as they were lords unto themselves capable of doing anything. They operated with utmost impunity until IGP Mohammed Adamu disbanded and reconstituted them leading to reduction in reported incidences. Some of the infractions included extra judicial killings, rapes and extortions which National Human Rights Commission NHRC has avalanche of such cases across the country. A friend, an Officer narrated to me how he was stopped at a police checkpoint. He told the Sergeant that he was abruptly stopped adding that it was wrong as another vehicle could have ran into him. Before he could introduce himself to the Team Leader, he lost consciousness from beating for attempting to speak up. My friend landed in hospital and then revealed his identity only for the DPO to take over the matter and appropriately sanctioned the officers. We are aware that the worst part of enmity and war is is household and a house divided itself cannot stand. The reported shooting and killing of Sergeant Onalaja by his own DPO, Adesina in May 2020 in Lagos with a cover up. All thanks to IGP interest in the matter after an earlier misinformation on the entire issue. Again, within same period, also in Lagos, one Inspector Okoro snuffed life out of a Cleric known as Fatai. These incidences could be traced to poor Training exposures and poor Mental Health Disorder.
2. ACCIDENTAL DISCHARGES: These are incidents that involves wrong use or operation of firearms leading to involuntary shooting and unfortunate loss of live or lives in the process. I believe it’s different from intentional or deliberate deployment of firearm to kill someone often out of anger. Both involve loss of lives and they are abuses. Whereas the former was not deliberate act, the latter is deliberate propelled by anger to show strength, power and superiority. Be that as it may, the accidental discharge has root in poor training or lack of training or professionalism in handling arms whereas deliberate shooting points to lack of training in emotional, mental and psychological management.
Both have a common surname linking them as humans with mental conditions. In this instance, Police must regularly expose officers to professionalism in arms management. The training must extend to constant mental, emotional and psychological checks. Truth be told, the policemen are also humans living in same country with you and I, exposed to daily work, marital and family challenges. The proximity of arms during conflict leads to some of these incidents. To show the humanity of an average policeman, some of them has variously committed suicide owing to diverse reasons. The police now more than ever need Mental Health Lectures to enable them to remain fit for the job and responsive to the society. The managers of Training should talk to Mental health experts with a view to fully incorporating it in their curriculum at all levels. There is need to involve civilians in this training to interface with officers.
The reality is that no one wants to identify with a violator, abuser or killer. This reoccurring incident of accidental discharges separate the police from the policed thereby hampering community policing principle of trust and participation. There is no end to Training but retraining ratio on arms is evidently low in police. Information has it that most policemen never undertook arms Training again after leaving Training schools until retirement. That’s a very sad narrative.
3. Extortions and Bribery: Severally IGP Mohammed Adamu and his predecessors denounced and rejected extortions and bribery warning officers to desist from it. Many officers in charge of Commands and Units also use the slightest opportunity to condemn the act. The IGP is sincerely working hard to contain this same ugly trend that is equally prevalent in government institutions and corporate world not just police. I can confirm that the IGP is serious over ending extortion, harassment and bribery in the Force because of a recent incident known very well to me which led to the arrest, orderly room trial and prosecution of an Officer in IG Monitoring Team as he never shielded the Officer involved. However, this is just the IGP that can’t be everywhere all the time. The DIGs, AIGS, CPs can’t be everywhere all the time as well and so IGP should rejig his Team in such Monitoring assignments. The Team should comprise of respected civilians and groups but certainly not retired officers. Since the police deal with civilians more, therefore, in this era of Community Policing, the civilians should be involved as whistle blowers. Victimized civilians will find it more convenient to report extortions and other crimes to these civilians than going to Stations. It’s another way of taking security and policing back to the beneficiaries of Policing, the people. Training should center around training and reminding Trainees about the core values, culture and discipline of police and policing.
4. INTIMIDATION OF MOTORISTS WHILE ATTACHED TO VIP OR UNDESERVING VIPS.
There are instances where policemen attached to non-deserving moneybags and uncultured personalities take laws into their own hands by harassing and intimidating other road users. Their overzealousness stretches to the point of beating up motorist while leading convoys and driving against traffic. They smash cars that couldn’t give way to them. They supervise beating of traffic lights. If their error leads to car crash, the victim receives supervised beating, intimidation and assaults. Sometimes their presence legalizes election malpractices. Some are illegally used for debt recovery, settlement of marital, emotional and family issues. Other unprofessional cops are willing tools ready to be hired to escort contrabands thereby denting the image of the Force. Some will get drunk and constitute social menace pitching the policed against the police like the build up to the mayhem in Ebem Ohafia, Abia State in April 2020 that led to loss of live and monumental arson.
These are acts inimical to collective security of the country and not what a cop should be. The display of these behaviors which in some instances has consumed lives means there is a gap in orientation and reorientation through Training. The Training should cut across all the zones, commands, units, divisions and stations without exception.
5. POOR INFORMATION MANAGEMENT
Public Relations Officers are information managers in any establishment rooted in the art and act of ensuring the projection of positive image of the organization and being in the gap between their organization and the publics with a viewing to constantly positioning the organization towards acceptability and responsibility. It involves deliberate Management and dissemination of information within an organization internally. Its packaged and delivered in appropriate and mutual manner to correct impressions, sway opinions and manage crisis to the benefit of the organization.
Public relation doesn’t tell naked lies where facts are obvious especially where lives are lost. The image of the police can be made or marred by the qualities of Public Relation Officers at the headquarter, Zonal and State Commands. There were highly rated but retired Officers that made the Force proud at the Headquarter like CP Frank Odita (Rtd), CP Olayinka Balogun (Rtd), Late AIG Chris Olakpe (Rtd) and current occupant DCP Frank Mba among others.
Sincerely few others were complete disaster. Same applies to some State Commands but mention must be made of Lagos and Abuja having some of the best Officers in that position. The seeming bad ones were arrogant, unfriendly, unapproachable, power drunk and lacked the slightest skills of Public Relations experts. These ones never added values to policing rather they demarketed the Force. A good PR Unit will unite and cement the desired relationship that works between police and her publics.
Further to the above, the Force must select the Public Relation Officers based on skills, communication and competencies than on emotions, sentiments or nepotism. It’s a critical and component part of Police that can make the difference. They must keep training and retraining these ones while dropping the untrainable ones. Internal Training isn’t enough. Professionals in the field must be involved. The retired officers in that position that distinguished themselves could be handy.
We can then see how Training and retraining can change the face of policing positively. There’s no end to training. Training is a continuum and it doesn’t come cheap. Regrettably, over the years, the toga of under funding has been the bane of the Police Force. The problem is also not in a hurry to evaporate. The Police Trust Fund Act as passed and signed when constituted must be able to change the entire narratives of paucity of funds especially inventions in Training.
Training can uplift and reposition the Force towards enhanced productivity and delivery of values that will indeed make them friendly and open the chapter of receiving quality, timely and valuable information.
Mazi Agodi KANU is a Writer, Author and Security Consultant and writes from Lagos Nigeria.
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