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If you do not know where you are going any road will take you there. This is a quote from Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll published in 1865. It was relevant then. It is appropriate today. According to a report in the print media the Ministry of Home Affairs will be conducting a survey for citizens since their views are vital for the force to understand the public and work towards getting citizens be involved in developing policies and improving the practice of the policing. The release stated that the purpose of the survey is to determine how effective the GPF is when dealing with the public, and the stage of trust, confidence and satisfaction of citizens. I am not certain what the methodology will be, who will be targeted, who will be conducting the survey, whether or not it will be country wide and how long it will last. Perhaps, the ideal thing to do is to conduct a Job Task Analysis throughout the country. Such an analysis is painstaking. It is expensive. It is scientific and it calls for a lot of time-months, but, the benefits of conducting such an analysis will be colossal. However, the planned survey by the Ministry is a small step in the right direction. Half a loaf is better than no loaf. Green shoots will emerge. They will be fruitful.
The vexed question is how does one measure the effectiveness of the GPF and the quality of service its members deliver to the citizens they swore to serve and protect. Ask any regional commander how his/her division is performing. The classical answer one will get is that there is minus or plus reports in reported crimes, arrest made, crimes solved and traffic accidents. This appears to be the main measuring tool for effectiveness.
Many persons including police officers tend to use crime rates, number of arrest and case clearance rates to measure how the police are doing. According to Wayne W Bennett and Karen W Hess such measures have several problems: Low crime rates do not necessarily mean a police agency is efficient and effective. A high arrest rate does not necessarily show that the police are doing a good job. A high ratio of police to citizens does not necessarily mean high quality police service. Responding quickly to calls for service does not necessarily indicate that a police agency is efficient. There is also the dark figures, crimes not reported and ‘ Ghosting, ‘ falsifying patrol logs to ‘ make the numbers come out right .” While serving as a member of the force i frequently heard the following words, ” Boy, cock the stats so that we can look good. ” It was done. I do not know if it is now hapenning in the GPF.
Kramer and Fielder (2002) opined that arrest and tickets tabulate only events. They do not measure whether or not the activities were completed efficiently and effectively, and they do not describe what impact the activities had on the community. They suggested that rather than looking at crime rates, number of arrest and response time, evaluation should assess whether or not the agency is effective in fulfilling its responsibility to the community and might focus on three areas: organisation, technical and personnel.
When evaluting the effectiveness, efficiency and productivity of the entire department managers must focus on their mission statement- in another article i will address the mission statement of the GPF. They must consider what citizens
want and expects from their protectors. Most cirizens want to live in safe, orderly neighbourhoods. The police are considered effective when they produce the perception that crime is under control. Reduction of fear is a very important measure. A fear and disorder index allows police to measure citizen’s concern and also sends a clear message to citizens that the department is addressing their fear of crime and neighbourhood disorder.
Citizens approval or disapproval is generally reflected in letters of criticism or commendation, support for police proposed programmes, cooperation with incidents being investigated, letters to the editor, public reaction to a single police-citizen incident or responses to police-citizen initiated surveys.
One way to assess citizen approval or disapproval is through citizen surveys, which can measure trends and provide positive and negative feedback on public’s impression on law enforcement. Community surveys are often win-win situation. Citizens are better served and officers received positive feedback.Community surveys can also be a key in establishing communication. Citizen surveys might also help set organisational goals and priorities, identify department strenghts and weaknesses, identify areas of improvement and needed training and motivate employees.
My gut feeling is that the proposed survey in question is an attempt to make the police effective. However, the trust now is to move from effectiveness to greatness. Steven R Covey’s book, ” The 8th Habit From Effectiveness to Greatness ” is very instructive. It is a must read for all police officers. I pray that God will inspire the police to move from effectiveness to greatness. However, one cannot do effective or great policing without God, no wonder the last four words in the police oath of office are , ” so help me God. ”