WE are elated to learn about a development in the Zambia Police Service where the Police Command has arrested and pressed charges on six criminal investigation detectives for allegedly stealing US$80,000 from a fleeing thief. According to the Copperbelt Division command, the entire Chingola District Criminal Investigation Unit has been caught up in the theft of exhibits and basically everyone, including the so-called CIO has been nabbed.
This is very unusual news. We say this because usually it is said that “Police investigating themselves cannot possibly produce proper and fair outcomes – never has and never will”. We are eager to see how the Police Command is going to deal with this issue of theft involving their own members.
Of course the accused will have to be given an opportunity to prove themselves innocent, but kudos are in order to the Police Command, given that the Inspector General and his Commissioners are always on the receiving end of criticism for shielding culprits in uniform. This development is good in that it will serve as a warning to would be offenders that being an officer is not a licence to commit crimes.
Institutions such as the police should not be a hiding place for wrong doers and it is incumbent upon the Police Command to ensure that the so-called bad apples are weeded out and dealt with. How the Police Service is managed will dramatically affect how officers behave toward citizens. And how officers behave toward citizens will affect whether citizens view law enforcement as an institution with integrity.
A police force with integrity is one with little or no misconduct or corruption. There is and there must be no place in the Zambia Police for those who abuse their position to exploit citizens. There must be no place in the police for lawbreakers. This is so because the police possess too much power and that power, once abused, can be dangerous to society.
The very fact that police have the power to arrest us, stop us in the street and search us, demands that they must be exceptionally professional in their conduct. Police are allowed to take possession of our property, but that does not mean they are free to operate outside the law and claim ownership of such property.
There is urgent need for the men and women in uniform to create a rapport and partnership with members of the public in order to regain the dwindling confidence from members of society. Members of the public do not have confidence in the police officers. There currently exists a very negative image about professionalism in the police service and the corruption tag has not been successfully relinquished.
There are many issues that have caused the public to lose confidence in the police and the Police Command has not been doing enough to correct the bad image. It’s not exactly a relieving site seeing a police officer approach your vehicle. It’s not exactly a promising situation when you take a complaint to the police station.
We would like to state that there are some police officers who are professional and strive hard to serve the public with dignity, but the majority see every situation as an opportunity to ease their financial pressure at home. It is that pressure which forces our law enforcers to survive as thieves in uniform, stealing both from the public and from thieves.
The Police Command must conduct a forensic investigation on the Criminal Investigation Department and Anti-Robbery Squad, the so called C5. There is a lot of dirt that is going on among the plain clothed police officers. Many of them have long forgotten their mandate. They go to work looking for opportunities to steal. They make deals with criminals. We have detectives who practically survive on criminal activities.
These famous departments of the police need cleansing, they are being abused. We need a robust system that will create an environment where people can be confident that those officers who should not be carrying guns are kept away from the service. We should not allow a situation where those who are sworn to stop crimes are outdoing criminals with their theft records.
Bravo Bwana Kanganja and your team on the action taken in Chingola, but it must not end there. Sweep the two departments, starting from Force Headquarters. We know it takes a thief to catch a thief, but ba police bachilamo!!