A VIDEO showing police officers in uniform and an unidentified man exchanging punches has not only shocked the nation but brought to the fore everything that is wrong with the Zambia Police Service.
A police officer fighting in public is not a spectacle that we ought to see in public. It is something that could best be left to someone’s imagination. But unfortunately, it is not a figment of one’s imagination but a true reality of what is obtaining in the police service.
There is no doubt that the traffic division of the Police Service is one institution that has lost credibility in the eyes of the public – regarded as being the most corrupt.
One wonders, for example, why the traffic section has road blocks almost every day. It is common to see traffic police officers in the central business district of Lusaka for example invade the roads early in the morning to set up spot checks.
Yet all we see is that the target is always the mini-bus drivers. What is strange is that they do not even check on the fitness of the vehicles, just a glance at the motor vehicle insurance and road tax discs. They do not even bother to count the number of passengers in a vehicle.
However, the real reason for most of these spot checks is actually to fleece money from the drivers. No wonder there is no love lost between the two.
A question that boggles the public is why the road traffic section appears to have that unchecked freedom where they can do almost anything on our roads. The Police High Command appears not to be in control on the situation on the ground.
It is this approach that has seen the Police Service lose credibility in the eye of the public. Add to this the many failed criminal prosecutions in the country’s courts all due to poor investigations by the police.
We should not forget too that recent infamous sex orgy at a Woodlands house in Lusaka involving over 70 youngsters aged between 13 and 18 which police have been reluctant to prosecute. Against all public condemnation, they chose to let the culprits go by letting them pay an admission of guilt fine as opposed to a more serious charge.
Thankfully, the Minister of Home Affairs, Mr Stephen Kampyongo has stated that he would not allow the Police Service to sweep the case under the carpet, but that the culprits would be prosecuted.
What we want to see though is a Police Command that is pro-active, that should not wait for instructions from “above” but able to take control of any given situation.
The events leading to that free for all punch up in Lusaka’s Garden Township all stemmed from one of those infamous road blocks that traffic police are notorious for. The picture is simply a disgrace to the Zambia Police Service that does not endear them to the public.
Ideally, the sight of a police officer is supposed to bring a sense of security and well-being to the ordinary citizen. But this is not the case. We want police officers who will use their brains in any given situation and not “Mike Tysons.”
The Police High Command definitely has a big responsibility to bring sanity to the rank and file in the service to restore and improve its battered image. It simply must sieve the chaff from the system.