Home affairs minister Stephen Kampyongo’s directive that Patriotic Front cadres should work with the police to stop arson cases allegedly being caused by the opposition is not only illegal but also very dangerous.
It’s a known fact that the Patriotic Front government has been deploying its party cadres in policing duties, especially against the opposition. The result has been disastrous.
Policing is a very serious, complicated and demanding profession. It requires a certain type of character and specialised training which these cadres do not possess.
Policing is a very delicate matter affecting fundamental freedoms and rights that must be left in the hands of well trained and trusted professionals.
Tyrants, despots, dictators of all hues have always used the police to enforce their rule and to keep their people under subjection. As a result of this, the police has therefore been considered by many people to be a great threat to peace and stability and a danger to freedoms and rights of citizens. To prevent the rise of tyranny, strict limits and control must be placed over the police as a matter of absolute necessity.
It will always be dangerous to the freedoms and rights of the people to have a police that includes ruling party cadres, whom the people have no control over.
The aim of all struggles for freedoms and rights is to keep in bounds the rulers and the police. The political concept of the individual’s freedom means: freedom from arbitrary action on the part of the police power.
In saying this, we are not in any way being anti-police – we’re anti-police abuse. And the abuse of the police that seems to create the most unhappiness is when those in power use their command and control of the police to get ahead without regard to the freedoms and rights of others, or when such power is used to go into the lower dimensional planes. There’s need to have great qualities for one to be a police officer. We know that not everyone is perfect but you don’t want a police officer who is partisan, a party cadre, dishonest and a law breaker themselves. We think honesty and integrity are very important to have for one to assume policing duties. People will have more respect for police officers who are honest.
Anyone involved in hiring police officers knows the challenges associated with success in these efforts. Successful ones rely on a clear understanding of what knowledge, skills, and traits those being deployed in policing duties should possess. Those being assigned to policing duties must have the zeal to fight crime in a just, fair and compassionate manner. Party cadres are there to carry out political campaigns and not to fight crime.
Ferreting out crime and criminals may ruffle feathers. Those with partisan commitments and are answerable to their political party structures may not be able to carry out policing duties in a just, fair and compassionate manner.
And the ethics of policing are different from those of politics. Law enforcement officers must strive to behave ethically – to do the right thing. They must commit to proper principles and values as guides to their actions and adhere to the Constitution and pertinent statutory laws. And the pursuit of ethical police behaviour never ends.
To whom are these Patriotic Front cadres being deployed in policing going to be accountable? The police command or their political party leaders! Police officers need to have some reasonable understanding of the law. If they have attended the police training school, they should have solid working knowledge of criminal laws and procedures. Most party cadres will certainly be at sea when it comes to criminal laws and procedures. Professional police officers perform their duties out of a desire to make the community better by protecting and serving. This requires them to communicate efficiently, effectively and respectfully with the community. Unlike party cadres, police officers need to have the ability to think and behave in a reasonable way and to make good decisions and sound and prudent judgment based on a simple perception of the situation and not on political affiliation or preference. Level-headedness is needed. Party cadres are often uncouth and insolent. Policing duties call for tolerance, kindness, consideration, and understanding – a willingness to sacrifice personal desires for the betterment of the community. In policing, the proper use of civility is crucial to overall success.
Officers who have appropriate bedside manners with citizens avoid many of the verbal and physical hazards prevalent in policing. For a police officer, civility is not a sign of weakness. Civility is not just a nice trait for those carrying out policing duties to possess but an absolute necessity.
Policing is a very serious and demanding career.
People choose their careers for a variety of reasons. When they select policing, it is critical for long-term success that they want to help people and be just, fair and humane to all. The desire to make the community better by protecting and serving must drive them. Individuals who do not like interacting with and helping people should not explore policing as an employment option. A political party cadre is not driven by this. Policing is not just a job, it is a calling. And police officers who think of police work as a calling tend to meet and overcome ethical challenges much better than those who view it simply as a job.
Clearly, there’s no place for a political party cadre in policing. A lot of humility is needed in policing. This is not meekness or weakness, but modesty and respect for others, as well as a lack of arrogance and bravado about oneself. In short, humble people do not brag or show off. They have confidence in their skills and do not feel the need to boast about themselves. Police officers exercise a prominent role in society and wield immense authority and power. The proper degree of humility can help engender respect and trust from the public. Party cadres don’t have the humility required of a police officer.
Policing calls for a lot of self-control or self-discipline and requires an abundance of competence, confidence, and emotional maturity. Those who cannot control their tempers would not be well-suited to properly handle people in the wide variety of circumstances law enforcement officers confront. When police officers encounter citizens who lose their temper, resolving the conflict becomes more difficult. If officers respond by losing their own temper, the circumstances become incendiary and often lead to a less-than-desirable result for both parties.
Policing is not an easy undertaking for dull people. Like other disciplines, policing continues to evolve and requires police officers to stay abreast with the expanding knowledge base. Not only do laws change regularly but police practices and tactics evolve too.
The increasing public complaints about the police being unprofessional are not baseless. There are too many unqualified people interfering in the day-to-day professional work of the police. We have Edgar Lungu, Stephen Kampyongo, Kaizar Zulu and other Patriotic Front leaders and cadres directing police operations – telling the police who to arrest, not arrest, detain, release and so on and so forth. Sometimes Patriotic Front cadres are given police uniforms and set on opposition elements while professional police officers are helplessly watching. This has created veritable chaos in the police.
Let’s leave policing duties to the professional police officers!