By J. J. Baloch
The Essence of My Anecdotes
During my eighteen years of active police service where I have been the part of executive district force as an independent commander (DPO) for more than eight years in ten districts, I have experienced the lot more new things never imagined before I actually confronted them. The essence of my experience is as under.
§ In policing every situation is almost either completely or partially a new situation with a quite new dimension of different new social environments. Nothing saves you better than your quickness and sharpness to understand the ground reality and work your way out of it.
§ When challenge poses in full swing, you are left with hardly any option to get a meaningful advice and is left alone and in many situations disowned. Even the sworn officers turn their eyes and attention away from you to share the responsibility and sometimes it is your sole and core responsibility where others are not supposed to be the part. Nothing works better than your own faith in yourself, your abilities to sense way-out and your own bloody common sense.
§ Sometimes you get into a kind of trouble where many shortcuts strike your mind but always remember the best way in such situations is not always the most obvious way.
§ And another misguiding presumption grow into our minds as police officers when the similar situation happens and we begin with our previous successful rule to apply but here be aware and careful that in policing no one rule will always apply or succeed.
§ Sometimes when you go to the crime scene and many people gather around the crime scene and investigative public gossip begins and as a result, many stories as to who might have done that crime and why transpires and they distract you from your primary job of trying to protect and to pick the crime scene signature. Never accept anything so easily; concentrate on the scene of the crime and also on the comments of the first person who brings up new ideas in gossip.
§ Gut knows more than the brain. It is my experience that you can get so many ideas and facts when you are guided by your hunch in detecting crime. Never allow your mind to distract you from your hunch but rather try to build on your hunch. Gut can get to the essence very fast while brain keeps busy in sifting the grain from the gross, a cumbersome process of conventional policing.
§ Remember policing is not a simple straightforward way of doing things in an effective way; if you really want to make a difference and mark in your job for outshining your colleagues than as there are methods to everything including madness and freakiness, so there is a way that leads to truth or the leads that take you to actual offenders. For that, the natural way is to go undercover by impersonating a criminal.
§ If your mentor has not been very frank with you, let me tell you very honestly that policing is the very dirty job. Here the most pure and classified information very often comes from the criminals; I never mean from the confessions of those criminals who commit them but from inside the criminal communities and groups not necessarily associated with the same gang but the hardened criminals have their “boys and girls” who they are in illicit relationship with or they have the places such as prostitution and gambling dens to spend their ill-gotten money for the sake of their pleasures and comforts. Using anonymity is in touch with such organised criminal syndicates to extract the information as much as and as quick as you can.
§ Whenever you receive any threat alert about any predictable criminal or terrorist incident, try to think like a criminal but remember don’t ever mix thinking like a criminal with acting like a criminal except that act is designed against the criminal to trap him or her for the sole purpose of detection and arrest. Never connive with criminals but conspire against them. They are always your sworn enemies and will never ever exempt you from harm and loss as their potential enemy. If you spare them for whatever reason, rest assure they never will; they will harm you. Sparing them to your own peril as a police officer is something that will never ever allow you to rise and make your mark as a trusted and loved cop.
§ Always be alive to public and local sensitivities. Some people are very touchy about something; you as a police officer never ever try to play with those sensitivities in a quick of enthusiasm of setting everything right overnight. Avoid this at all costs; this will pay you back.
§ How you, as a police leader (DPO) conduct publically and professionally do impact on what you want to achieve in your area of responsibility. Always keep yourself aware of what the public, as well as the police officials who work for you, think about you. Your image, as a police officer, always has the impact on your credibility and performance.
§ Shun all your biases. Keep your personal beliefs with you; never allow them to blind you. There will be many people living in your area of responsibility and maybe have different beliefs and notions in a variety of things that might not be in line with what you think right and good on your own. Learn to coexist with differences failing you’re being intolerant and with pre-conceived thoughts will limit your effectiveness, dynamism and humanity.
§ Be always unpredictable for the criminals and your police force but never ever be unpredictable for the general masses. If you become predictable for your force or for that matter for the criminal they will take you for granted thereby being able to pre-judge your response typical of certain environments. This could give both criminals and your subordinates a levelling field or cushion to play with your weaknesses and limits. The set image for police commander, even if he or she believes in due process, in the eyes of police or criminals always backfires. As some hardened criminals I had a chance to personally interrogate very clearly confessed what they did but showed confidence in the fact that due to loss of evidence or if not found the judge would not be able to award any sentence to them and confessions before the police have no evidentiary value; so ultimately will be set free. This is how some predictable scenarios encourage criminals to continue to go scot free and repeat crime. This is very dangerous. On the contrary, if police get impression that their boss is benign, kind and ignore their violations or they feel that their boss does not stand with them an hour of adversity they shun their all loyalties to the department. So predictability is licence of police arbitrariness and criminal incentive for committing crime.
§ Always be easily not cheaply accessible to both the public as well as the police. If you are cheaply accessible to everyone, then criminals also take the opportunity to get closer to you and the unwanted people who have nothing to do in life get access to you for unnecessary gossips and futile time-wasting conversations either ringing you or knocking at your door at odd timings that could drag you to controversies of character and reputation. However, for meaningful interactions with people who are in genuine troubles requiring your help should not miss the chance of reaching you any time. For all this you need to build a sensible system of public relationship without any intermediary who could likely to misuse being your legitimate representative. Social media and text messages are very good forming of personalised connections that I advise for police officers to keep in touch with the public.
§ Whenever people find themselves in the middle of any trouble of the kind of emergency and crime situation, you should have your very expeditious system of quick response to mitigate the loss and to minimise the damage. This is very important and will bring good name to you and your department. In crime situations quick response will prevent crime by ensuring red-handed captures of the criminals with higher deterrent rates.
§ Convey a very clear and categorical message to the criminals and their supporters or harbourers that neither connections nor bribe can save them from the clutches of law when found involved and you are a police officer who is guided by law and zero tolerance policing-tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime.
§ In policing you should conduct yourself in guardianship mode rather than going for warrior mindset. Terror and punitive approaches end up in public ill-will and distrust. In such state of affairs police officers goes to loser ends and criminal makes the most of public grievances and bad image of police. In many such situations, people say publically and on screens that they fear police more than they fear terrorists and criminals because if terrorists or criminals commit any wrong they are punished but if the protector himself or herself become the violator, society lose faith in the system generating the serious crisis of legitimacy of statehood which, in turn, eats into the vitals of good governance.
§ Always know your limits. If I storm my brain as a police officer for identifying legitimate limits to be taken serious care of, the list of such limits include:
o The rule of Law
o Due Process
o Human rights
o Public Trust
o Professional integrity
o Personal values
o Loyalty to the country
o Respect for moral values
o Fear of God
§ Besides this there is long list of some very strategic measures that a police officer need to ensure while conducting him or herself in the line of duty. Some of such steps are:
o Assess threat
o Identify vulnerabilities
o Shortlist hot spots and likely targets
o Involve community
o Cultivate intelligence sources
o Profile criminals
o Build crime database
o Use technologies such as biometrics, forensics, telemetry, social media etc.
o Establish counterterrorism force and system
o Transform police culture from force to service model
o Adopt proactive policing that is to prevent the crime incident before it takes place.
o Minimize opportunity of crime.
o Minimize vulnerability of likely target
o Adopt problem solving approach
o Accept democratic oversight and resist political interference
o Cleans police from criminal and unwilling workers
o Make corrupt and extortionist an example for severe punishment
o Assign different tasks to the most suitable persons who are likely to outperform them.
o Promote Transparency, accountability and professional integrity
o Protect your officers of all ranks from injustices, criminal threats and political tensions and guard them like a wounded mother lion when you find them right on their principles
o Never abuse and never be physical with your officers
o Make good community relations
o Build partnerships with all stakeholders in peace
o Balance the crime and criminals through innovative crime prevention strategies
o Adopt procedural justice
o Build legitimacy through public trust
o Capitalize on diversity
o Avoid provocation
o Master Good Communication skills
o Go for right-based organisational culture
While doing all this you need two important things without which you can never achieve these ends. They include working in strategic frameworks with leadership dynamism. Leadership dynamism implies certain qualities of a police leader i.e. positivity, capacity, vision, will, action, pragmatism, persistence, evaluation, feedback and change. While chalking our strategic framework for establishing peace and order in the society, community priority should always be at the centre of strategy. It is so because the community is a primary stakeholder and the end user of policing products such as peace. Besides this, it is the community who will follow the strategy so developed and make such strategy a success or failure by either cooperating in providing information, logistics, resources, legitimacy to police action and above all your image is crafted at the place where community votes for or against whether you are good or bad, your force deliver service or cause problems. Strategic policing is, thus, multidimensional approach to law enforcement that has great potential of transforming police and policing into a true art of PeaceCraft in Pakistan.
The Writer is a Policing Educator, a Novelist, an Author and a senior Police Officer at Police Service of Pakistan…