Onwe, Sunday Onwe
Department Of Political Science/Public Administration
Ebonyi State University.
A strong correlation exists between the police and the pubic because effective policing entails a strong co-operation of the police and the public. The ability of the police to secure the ‘willing cooperation of the public in voluntary observance of the law is necessary to be able to secure and maintenance public acceptance. This paper examines this assumption. It goes further to explore the role of the police and the public; the police principles and practice, police public relations and the need for mutual existence between the police and the public. The paper begins with historical background of the Nigeria police and at last offered some recommendations.
The Nigeria police force had its origin in Lagos in 1861. The consul at the time complained that he had numerous duties amongst them, those of the police; trust on him and in June 1861 permission was sought from the British Government to enlist in consular Guard of 30 men. This guard was so named because the representative of the British Government was Consul John Beecroft. (The Nigeria police training manual: 2). This brief history of the police in Nigeria reveals that what we have today as Nigeria police is a British Legacy and has remained pro-British right from its inception. Policing everywhere in the world is referred to as the maintenance and presentation of rules of external conduct of human being in the society. That is, rules and norms which people are required to observe and obey. In this sense, policing is very broad. It assumes that in all communities which reach a certain stage of development, there springs up social machinery which will be responsible for the enforcement of its laws and regulations.
Policing is primarily interested in how rules of the external conduct are made or in discovering rules which all nations must accept. Its task is to study the nature of law and its enforcement and their relationship to society. In each society there is an interaction between the abstract rules, the institutional agencies existing for their application and the life of the people. The police organisation therefore appears to have been developed for the maintenance and enforcement of law and order and the security of a peaceful co-existence for the community. In addition; it is part of the social agents used to enable planned changes and improvements to take place in organised societies. It is therefore reasonable to argue that the pressure of social needs which the police must satisfy must vary from one society to another.
Caldwell (1965) has used the word ‘police1 in its broadest sense to include all officers and men whose function involves law enforcement. This definition has accommodated all law enforcement agencies, the armed forces, customs, the civil police, Boys scout, Immigration officers, prisons and others. Arguing along the same line, Bittner (1970:38-44) has contended that a police officer is any person who is principally concerned with law enforcement and crime control and only incidentally concerned with an infinite variety of other socio-political matters. This therefore supports Smith (1990:68-70) who maintained that the imposition of duties and demands that are not related to crime control dilutes the effectiveness of the police. In a match towards professionalism, the police Act of Nigeria enacted in 1967 explained that:
“Police or the police means a members or members of the police force charged with the responsibility of prevention and detection of crime, the apprehension of offenders, the preservation of law and order, the protection of lives and property, the due enforcement of all laws and regulations; the performance of such military duties within and outside Nigeria as may be required of them by the Federal Government”.
On the basis of the foregoing explanations it is obvious that the police is a body of civilians, uniformed and not secret agents exercising in their own person the authority of law and responsible for their own actions under the law, answerable not to private persons or body of persons, but to government and charged with the mission of crime prevention and detection rather than punishment. Jaja (1985).
This definition by Jaja seems to capture it all since it has identified three notable implications. In the first place, it fits better with the actual expectations and demands made of the police officer. In the second place, it gives a better accord with the actual utilization of manpower and other resources. Thirdly, it lends unity to all kinds of police activity. Having explained what we mean by the concept of police vis -a vis its meaning, it will be of utmost gain if this paper examines the principles and practice of police.
THE POLICE – ITS PRINCIPLES AND PRACTICE.
A full account of the historical development of the police organisation in African is at present not available in literature. It is pertinent therefore to assert that to a great extent, this is likely to have resulted from’ the nature of the police organisation, which seem to have less attraction to researchers. This had made some authors to claim that the prime vehicle for transmitting early method of policing in African seems to have come as a result of infringement on the rights of members of the community and the need to carry out some social functions to benefit the ethic community.
From our discussion above, we find also that discussing issues in the study of police especially in Nigeria throws us in a state of confusion especially while trying to distinguish between police principles and practice. Police principles are fundamental truths or what are thought to be truth at a particular time, which can be used to describe and predict results of certain actions in a given situation. Similarly, practice refers to the effective application of the underlying science and art to a particular situation. The term “Police Principles” therefore does not imply a rigid concept; hence, they may come in many forms ranging from merely on the manner of how a police officer ought to behave without a causal relationship. Therefore one can see police principles as a role prescription that indicates how a police officer should behave. In fact, they are index to police behaviour.
By whatever measure, it is pertinent to note that policing is a widely spread practice and in the recent past its practitioners seem to have built a sizeable and impressive profession, though the dynamics and complexities in police organizations in various countries of the world and Nigeria in particular have made it impossible for a universal application of police principles and practice. However, in this paper, some of the principles under which the civilian, uniformed and salaried police are organised will be highlighted.
PRINCIPLES AND PRACTICE OF THE POLICE.
Here are some of the notable principles and practice of the police under which the
institutionalized police are organized.
I. The ability of the police to perform their duties is dependent upon public approval of police existence, actions, behaviour and the ability of the police to secure and maintain public respect. This is true, because the police is the means / agent established to maintain law and order and the only possible and available parameter of measuring their effectiveness is through the public. If the public
resists and objects to the police behaviour, there is bound to be problem.
The test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with them. Peel (1973:4-5) The argument here is that police efficiency could only be measured by comparing the absence of crime and not how many criminals that have been arrested or killed during a face-off between the police. Peel is of the opinion that the police is regarded as anti-crime agent and must be primarily concerned about its reduction. Similarly, the public will be freer, comfortable and relaxed if the crime rate in the society is reduced and not how many criminals or potential criminals that the police are batting with. The basic mission for the police existence is to prevent crime and disorder as an alternative to the repression of crime and disorder by military force and severity of legal punishment. The public will not be comfortable when force is applied at every situation. The idea here is that every effort should be geared towards crime prevention.
The police should always direct their actions towards their functions and never appear to usurp the powers of the Judiciary by avenging individuals or the state or authoritatively judging or punishing the guilt. In most cases in Nigeria, the police will be seen usurping the functions of the Judiciary by deciding cases or avenging for the state or individuals. This is not their function and the public will be most uncomfortable seeing police derail from their functions. This builds mistrust, lack of confidence and respect for the police.
Another salient principle in which the police was established is that the police while discharging its functions must secure and maintain public acceptance. This is very necessary because the police cannot succeed in their mission alone, the public is needed to assist the police and if there is no co-operation among the police and the public, the efficiency of police will be in doubt.
From the above explanation; the police also should at all times maintain a relationship with the public that gives support to the historic tradition that the police are the public and that the public are the police. The police are the only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every member in the interest of community welfare.
In the same vein, the amount of respect and / or co-operation of the pubic that can be secured diminish proportionately with the necessity for the use of physical force and compulsion in achieving police objectives.
8. The police seek and preserve public favour not by catering to public opinion but by constantly demonstrating absolutely impartial service to the law, and by offering of individual sacrifice in protecting and preserving life.
9. Finally, the police should use physical force to the extent necessary to secure observance of the law or to restore order only when the exercise of persuasion, advice and warning are found to be insufficient to achieve police objective and police should use only the minimum degree of physical force which is necessary on any particular occasion for achieving a police objective.
THE NEED FOR POLICE – PUBLIC RELATIONS
It has been generally accepted that to achieve efficiency and effectiveness, organizations must develop and implement sound public relations policy. To do this successfully, it must recognize the importance of the publics of the organization. Most often, this recognition seems to commence with showing awareness to public opinion. This must have influence Kogan (1965: 1) to report that:
“During the past two decades, organizations have learned that however legal and proper its actions, to act in terms of “the legal ambit alone is not quite good enough. Something more is required, that is, a positive awareness of national goals and objectives, social as well as economic, and an effort to make actions conform as much as possible with the prevailing tides of public opinion”.
From the forgoing statement, it is clear that if an organization is not responsive to the opinion of its publics, it will not be able to understand itself; it will therefore be unable to create a desired image for the organization.
Police Public Relations is that aspect of management and administration of the police organization, which seeks to establish positive interpersonal relationships between the force and its public through an assessment of public attitudes and interests so that the police organization can carry qut its statutory duties in accordance with the law and with the support, respect and acceptance of the general public. It is therefore clear that it is a programme to sell the organization’s image to the public. Certainly, not a set of expedients whose purpose is to change for a time an angry public, rather, it is a long-range-full-scale effort for good performance.
One question, which has bordered police-public relations when choosing the type of image to built for a police organization therefore is, “what kind of image does a police organization try to build and maintain”? Research evidence has shown that it could be to discharge the most reliable quality of crime control and preventive servicing to show its public that they are the most progressive, competent and ambitious among the numerous government agencies, especially those in the crime management process; and to make the public believe that the police organization is friendly, imaginative and warmth, socially, with their community. Whatever the choice, the fact remains that the image of a police organization is reflected in the quality of crime control and prevention services it is able to deliver. A favourable image of the police organization is likely to create confidence in the police officer that wears the uniform; guarantee the demand for his services; and attract highly qualified professionals into the police organization. This implies that it will motivate individual police officers work and help them maintain an understanding of the police organization as a good neighbour and a good place of work. Further, anything man does involves the police organization either directly or by implication. The presence of the police organization is therefore felt everywhere, making the police organization a natural human creation. This indicates that the demands of public relations functions are every police officers responsibility. But for anything to be meaningful, it has to be located and started from an organization. Despite the evidence of total involvement of all police officers indicated, substantially, from the nature of the police-public relations, a police-public relations department was established in Nigeria in 1962 by the first indigenous Inspector General of Police, Mr. L.A. Edet. Like our earliest written records of a management technique, found in (Exodus Ch. 18: 20 – 23) which read:
“You cannot do it alone … choose from the people at large some capable and God-fearing men trustworthy and incorruptible and appoint them as leaders of the people; leaders of thousands, hundreds, fifties, tens. They can refer all difficult questions to you, but all smaller questions they will decide for themselves, in making things easier for you and sharing the burden with you. R.S.V
The police-public relations department was established to:
i. first to develop programme which will encourage partnership between the
police and the public in the cause of crime control and prevention;
ii foster and improve communication and mutual understanding in’ the relationship between the police and the public;
ii promote inter-professional approaches to the solution of society’s problems;
iv. assist police officers and the public in an understanding of the nature and complexity of the police organization;
v. strengthen the implementation of equal protection under the law for all publics of the police organizations, and
vi. Similarly, so to speak, write and picture messages of the police organization so that the public obtains an accurate understanding of the organization’s character, ideals and practices.
The department is also responsible for the collection, assembling and analyzing information about the public reactions to the public organization’s policies and practices, as well as all kinds of public thought that may impinge on the organization’s performances at all levels and bring same to the knowledge of police administrator (the Inspector-General, Assistant Inspector-General or The Commissioner of Police depending on the law at which the department is established). Further, the department is to advice the State Commissioners of Police, Divisional Police Officers and indeed all police officers by presenting facts and ideas which will give them a better understanding of how to deal with public affairs.
An examination of these functions tend to reveal that the Police-Public Relations Department is a system that takes inputs, do things to them, and produce outputs. This must have influenced some theorists (Munro 1974, pp.62 67; Kuykendall and Usinger 1978, pp 231 – 231) as quoted in Jaja A. S. to contend that a police public relation officer must recognize the implications of this to his departments. Some of these implications are that:
1. For the police organization to be effective, it must constantly adapt to the police organization’s environment, though not passively.
2. As the police organization adapt to the environment by changing its goals, objectives, and procedures, it also changes its relationship to its environment.
3. Police organizations are composed of numerous interdependent units. A change in one unit will, in turn, cause changes in the other units.
4. Communications are necessary both within the organization and within the environmental components so as to facilitate more effectively.
Sheenhan and Gottner (1979: 30 – 39) suggested that the police as a close or an open system in terms of the degree of influence of the environment, concluded that the police organization depends on its environment for survival. Tansik and Elliot (1981 :4) as contained in Jaja added that there is no completely open or completely closed organization. They went on to say that indeed all organizations including the police fall somewhere between these extremes, and some are simply more open or closed than others. What is important therefore is that the Police Public Relations Officer must be able to coordinate the human and material inputs in such a way to have a police organizational process that canrender desired crime control and preventive services to an effective and efficient manner in order to create a good image for the force. This task can be viewed as a sequence of managerial functions – planning, organizing, staffing directing, and controlling (Fayol 1949; Urwick 1944; Mintzberg 1975, pp.49 – 61).’ These functions are generic because all managers, whether industrial, commercial or service organization do them.
Steiner (1969:7), lending support to Lindblom (1959), opined that planning as management’s act of deciding well in advance what is to be done, when it is to be done, how it is to be done, and what is to be done. It is the step upon which all other management functions are premised. Without plans, there is nothing for which to organize, staff, direct, or control. Good plans allow an organization to chart its course and also provide for more rapid responses to situation that arises. Thus, plans result in strategies as well as tactics. Good planning will not just happen. Management must create a proper environment for planning. Part of this environment may include the integration of planning into other organizational functions such as performance evaluation. Similarly, as Kimble (1958:213 – 234) has noted:
“Planning and research programmes which will continually seek to identify the techniques and methods that will best aid the department in procuring manpower within its own particular community must be established. In addition, there must be development throughout the organization as growing awareness of the important role recruitment of qualified personnel plays in the future hopes and goals of the organization”
Once management decided what to do (plan), they must decide how to do it (organize). By differentiating the large organizational task into small components and then by integrating the work of these components is an organizational structure, people are able to work together and accomplish goals that would not have been attainable had they worked as individuals alone and without cooperation. Tansik and Elliot, (op.cit, pp 81) have succinctly put it this way:
“In viewing the organizing functions, several underlying issues are involved. First, there is a differentiation process. This involves breaking the overall tasks of the organization into smaller components, each of which can be assigned to a person or group of persons. Secondly, the differentiated tasks must undergo integration, that is, the task must be coordinated to ensure that they are properly performed and that they add up so as to accomplish the organizational goal”.
It is therefore reasonable to argue that the duties of the Police Public Relations Officer must include:
1. Assisting in the establishment of the police public relation policy
2. The determination of all the tasks necessary to do the work required to achieve the goal of policing
3. The creating of jobs by assigning similar tasks to certain police officers.
4. The establishment of authority relationships among jobs for supervisory and coordination purposes
Most of the relationships can be demonstrated on organization chart.
However, we are aware that, as Cyert and March (1963:289) as quoted in Jaja rightly
“The organization chart is not a perfect representation reality. It usually errs by not reflecting the nuances of relationships with the organization; it usually deals poorly with informal control and informal authority, usually underestimates the significance of personality variable in modeling the actual system, and eventually exaggerates the isomorphism between the authority system and the communication system”.
Despite-these limitations, police organization charts provide convenient starting-point and reading maps for understanding any given relationship that affects the publics. These tend to encourage departmental specialization which Wilson and McLaren (1972: 81) has argued have several advantages such as placement of responsibility, development of experts, improvement of training, promoting of espirit de corps, stimulation of special police interest, and the arousal of public interest. It must be pointed out that when specialization is taken to the extreme, boredom, the feeling that the work is tedious and unchallenging, and a lack of identification with the organization’s overall service output is likely to set in. When this set in, a reserve of specialization, job enlargement or job enrichment is often appropriate.
The directing function of the police relations officer is concerned with stimulating police officers to perform in such a way that the police organizational goals may be achieved while at the same time securing the co-operation and favourable public opinion about the police for the public. If all police officers perceive that their personal goals were the same as, or overlapped extensively with the police organizational goals, the directing function would not require extensive attention. But it seems that most police officers who work in police organizations would not want such goals overlap with the police organization. If one accepts Tansik and Elliot’s (Op.cit 159), observations that if one takes a realistic pragmatic view of the behaviour of people in organizations, he is most likely to find that many people behave in ways that maximize their personal goal attainment. This leads to creating condition in the organization so that people will behave in ways that lead to personal goal attainment while at the same time doing work necessary to attain organizational goals.
Directing ultimately concerns the issuance of orders or directives and their acceptance and execution. Again, acceptance and execution requires managerial attention to human motivation and to organizational climate within which performance takes place. The police public relation officer must understand the means of the police officers so as to be able to offer incentive that satisfy these needs in return for the services rendered to the public by the police officers. Controlling as a management function which the police relations must perform involves ensuring that directed action within the police organization as to the relationship between the police and the public takes place according to plans. As perfection is not usually the norm, management control seeks to identity deviations from desired norms with a view of taking actions which will bring performance into line with what is desired. This leads us to the discussion of the criticisms levied against the police by the public.
Public Criticisms of Police
Experience has shown, and as Okonkwo (1966:5) has stated, albeit the relationship between the police and the public in Nigeria cannot be said to be cordial. Newspapers contained many articles about the arbitrary exercise of police power and other deviant behaviours. The deviant police behaviour which intended, to widen the gap between the Nigerian public and the police as highlighted in the Nigerian Police Force Magazine (1962:27) include:
1. The exaggeration of evidence in court by the police.
2. The use of unnecessary violence on members of the public that is brutality
3. Ineptitude in handling the public on occasions of public demonstrations
4. Incivility to members of the public.
5. Unnecessary delay in attending to complaints
Tamuno (1970, p.20), in his study of the Nigerian public was particularly disturbed by the lack of courtesy shown by the police in discharging such duties as traffic control, making arrest, and taking statements. Ehindero (1986: 128), asserting that he did not want to consider the falsity or otherwise of the foregoing remote causes of friction between the police and the public added that the causes of problem are:
1. The police arrest processes.
2. The police and the exercise of his discretion to prosecute
3. Police and the enforcement of unpopular laws
4. Police actions and student demonstrations
5. Police and the allegation of corruption.
6. Police involvement in electoral malpractices (my addition)
All that we can say is that as Delming (1980:35) has opined, all those who criticize the police should remember that from the nature of police job, cannot reply to their criticisms; let alone entering into public or political controversy. However, the question we are asking is “How can police public relations be improved?
Though it is not yet clear as to what the role of either the police or public should be in the match towards a good police-public relations, attempt must be made towards initiating a cordial unification of the police and its publics. When this unification must have been achieved, a systematic and scientific role or each party to good police-public relations can be easily defined. However, let us on the basis of experience and available literature discussed the role of the police and the public on the making of good police-public relations.
Police role in promoting good police – public relations.
That the police must play a significant role in the establishment of sound police-public relations has been accepted as a foregone conclusion. Caldwell (1965), has suggested that one way the police can contribute to good police-public relations is by ensuring that all members of the society are created equally under ,the law, by performing their duties in a courteous, efficient, and economical manner, and by educating the public regarding the work and the problems of the police. Wilson and McLaren (Op.cit) have suggested that in addition to the efficient and effective manner the individual police officer performs his duties, which can contribute to good police-public relations, the following programmes can even contribute more. A programme that:
1. Establishes mutual understanding and harmonious relations with the press, radio and televisions;
2. Gives public lectures, talks, and demonstrations by members of the police on various aspects of police work;
3. Provides special services for those in distress, underprivileged children, and visitors to police stations.
4. Gives public awards to officers who render outstanding and meritorious services
5. Publishes annual reports to inform the public of police problems, accomplishments, and plans
6. Allows the public to tour police facilities, and give demonstrations of police methods;
7. Exhibits police displays of the crime problem, police equipment, and methods of law enforcement; and
8. Initiates a regular and constructive dialogue; with the public regarding police-public problems
These types of programmes when well designed and implemented will greatly assist in the establishment of good police-public relations, and will also assist tremendously in developing a professional and effective police force.
Having examined how the police can judiciously and professionally contribute to good police-public relations, let us now look at the role of the public towards the promotion of good police-public relations.
The Role Of The Public In Promoting Good Police-Public Relations:
The most important and first role the public plays in an effort towards a good police-public relation is to be law-abiding. They also have to assist the police in the efficient discharge of their duties, and responsibilities by taking the following crime preventing measures since the level of crime wave is a great determinant of the degree of interest the public will show towards the police.
1. Locking doors and windows of residence and business houses when absent from such dwellings,
2. Leaving automatically activated security lights during lengthy or over-night absence from residential and business establishment.
3. Alerting the police and neighbour especially during absence and discontinuing home delivery services during such times.
4. Instructing children not to interact with strangers and to refrain from loitering in
inappropriate places, especially late at night.,
5. Removing keys from parked cars and other valuables, and locking them securely
6. Adequate lighting the inside and outside of business dwelling houses over night.
7. Informing the police of any crime and their perpetrators / authors.
Added to the preventive measures which likely reduced the chances of clashes of, interest between the police and its public, the public should ensure that the policing system exists within the society. This can only be achieved when the public shows interest generally in the affairs of the police and make useful and constructive suggestions when necessary towards police improvement. This lends support to the fact that, an alert, responsible, interested and active public is most important in inducing an efficient and effective law enforcement, hence a good police public relations. They must also supply a free flow of information to the police about criminal activities that come to their knowledge.
It is clear from the foregoing that all police organizations in Nigeria and beyond must have a functioning police public relations department whose primary responsibility should involve the encouragement of and assisting other members of the police to secure the establishment of harmonious public relations and to coordinate on a national outlook the measure adopted for that purpose by others. It should also be its primary duty to advise and make recommendations to the top police administrators on matters, which they consider should be brought to their attention in a way of improving on the relationship between the police and the public.
Caldwell (1965) criminology. The Ronald Press. Co. New York.
Bittner, E (1970). The functions of the police in modern society. Public health publication no. 2059.
Smith, E. (1990) Police systems in the United States. Harper and Row. New York.
Peel R. (1973) Police Principles, Radelet, L. A. Macmillan, New York.
Kogan (1965) quoted in Jaja A. S.
Holy Bible. Revised Standard Version (Exodus: Chapter 18.20 – 23)
Munro et al (1974) quoted in Jaja A. S.
Sheenhan and Oottner (1979) quoted in Jaja A. S.
Tansik and Eliot (1981) quoted in Jaja A. S.
Kimble (1958) quoted in Jaja A. S.
Nigerian Police Training Manual (NPT.) (1962). Simon and Simon Associate. 4 Moore Street Onitsha.
Jaja A. S., (1985) Managing the Police Organisation in Nig. Rivers State University of Science and Technology. Unpublished M.B.A. Thesis