To win against crime the public should actively support the police
by Sunday Standard Commentary
The Commissioner of Botswana Police Service, Thebeyame Tsimako, has officially announced that he will retire from the service in a month’s time.
When he bows out, it will be after 42 years of service to his country.
We want to take this opportunity to recognize Mr. Tsimako for the service he has rendered his country and his people.
Forty-two years is a very long time. For someone who started at the bottom rungs of the service, and now retires at the top most echelons, Tsimako has nothing else left to prove.
He can look back with honour and look ahead to spending more time with his family and doing other tasks and hobbies closest to him, which, due to the demanding schedule of the official police work, he was over the last four decades not able to fully attend to.
Batswana should be grateful to have in their midst people like Mr. Tsimako. Elsewhere, police commissioners never get to retire with honour.
In South Africa, another commissioner is serving a jail term for corruption and consorting with criminals while another has just been sacked for the same.
That is a disgrace to the profession of many dedicated men and women who risk their lives to secure those of their fellow countrymen and women.
As Batswana, the greatest honour we can do Mr. Tsimako as he bows out is to continue to do with passion that which he has dedicated all his professional life, which is to fight crime in all its manifestations.
We urge all Batswana to join hands with the police to fight crime, which by all indications is growing not only in its frequency but in its sophistication.
Botswana Police Service will not on their own defeat crime, no matter how well resourced they may be – and, as we all know, resources remain one of the greatest stumbling blocks.
What the police need most is a partnership with the community.
A few years ago, the Botswana Police came up with a strategic plan which effectively changed them from a “Force” into a “Service.”
Key among the Plan was recognition that the police needed the public as a partner.
There also was recognition that in fighting crime, the police had to adopt a human rights-based approach.
While the plan is still ongoing, it would look like it has somehow paid off.
Ordinary citizens no longer look at police men and women as enemies. Rather, they are people to turn to for protection and for assistance.
Police centers are no longer areas to be avoided.
Rather they are service centres to which people turn to for help.
We urge government to push ahead with the police transformation.
More needs to be done to train officers so that they can internalize the espousing of a human rights culture as part of their chores. We call on government to do more in training the Special Constable cadres. While they serve a purpose, if not properly supervised they have the potential to harm the good name of the police.
History shows that once relations and trust between the public and police collapse, restoring it is even more difficult.
Special constables’ zeal, crudeness and preparedness to use excessive force against suspects are clearly a result of lack of adequate training. Our belief is that it is not too late to get this corrected, including by way of infusing and blending these cadres into the mainstream police structures so that they too could benefit from the educational and training opportunities available to the mainstream cadres.
One other thing that needs to be done is to put more officers in the streets.
It does not serve much purpose to employ officers only to confine them to offices where they become pen-pushers.
Increasing police visibility in our streets is the greatest deterrent against crime. As a country, that is what we should thrive to do.
And it is our hope that more offices, including those at senior levels, could get more operational by way of providing leadership where their skills and experience are needed most – which is in fighting crime in our streets.
Once again, we wish Mr. Tshimako a pleasant retirement and can reassure him that he will never regret the time and service he has rendered to his people as a police officer over the last four decades.