Members and officers of the Zimbabwe Republic Police are often held in high esteem for the professional manner they conduct their business. They apply themselves fully to their work, which is the reason the country enjoys unmatched levels of peace and security compared to others in the region.
People commit crimes under the cover of darkness, thinking they will not be caught, but are shocked when they are arrested. Such kind of competence has become synonymous with our police force to the extent that no crime committed in the country can go unaccounted for, making even the most hardened of criminals to always think long and hard before committing crimes.
The professionalism and competence of our police force is not confined only to Zimbabwe but it extends beyond our borders. This is why our police force has become a permanent fixture at most United Nations peace-keeping operations in the region and beyond. The ZRP has built a very good reputation of itself by being exemplary in the foreign peace-keeping missions and local operations.
However, it takes a lot of time and commitment to build an image that is acceptable and respectable throughout the continent, in particular and the world, in general. The ZRP has become a brand.
A brand takes time to build and you do not want anyone to mess up a good brand that has become the envy of many countries in the region.
Of course, in any institution, bad apples are bound to be found. It is the action that institutions take in dealing with such misfits that matters the most at the end of the day.
Yesterday’s report of a police sergeant and a colleague who set up an unsanctioned roadblock in Kuwadzana Extension to extort money from motorists made very sad reading and put the ZRP in the spotlight. The police sergeant and his colleague are said to have been using a counterfeit fine book and were only caught after a traffic “offender’’ they had “arrested’’ challenged them to take him to the nearest police station.
Such conduct by law enforcers makes the work of the ZRP very difficult in that it becomes hard for the public to ascertain whether a roadblock is fake or genuine. This will now strain relations between the police and members of the public as they can, rightly so, resist being charged for crimes at roadblocks thinking they could be fake. Combine with that unsavoury behaviour with corruption in the police force and you can appreciate why the public is likely to be outraged by this delinquent behaviour of a few.
We condemn in the strongest of terms such unbecoming conduct by what we deem to be rogue police officers as it can easily lead to lawlessness in a country that is known the world-over to be home to very law-abiding citizens.
We do not want the good work that the ZRP has done over the years and continues to do, to be spoiled by a few rotten apples. The ZRP needs to send a very strong message to its members and officers that such conduct and other corrupt tendencies can never be tolerated in the force. Such criminally-inclined people have no place in the force and should not come anywhere near the police uniform.
Having said that, we encourage the ZRP to embark on awareness campaigns to educate members of the public on what constitutes a genuine or sanctioned roadblock. People need to know the things to look out for to ascertain whether or not a roadblock is fake.
Is it the number of police officers or any number officers so long as they are in uniform? Is it the rank of the officers? What is it?
These are questions the ZRP should answer so that members of the public can still maintain some measure of respect for the force in the middle of the actions of a few rotten apples. How can members of the public avoid being trapped by robbers masquerading as police officers manning a roadblock?