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‘We are introducing rapid response teams’

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The darkness in Limbe streets during night time is not dignifying the city. Time has come for us to stop protecting our positions but our integrity

Limbe is one of the country’s tricky policing areas, as Malawi Police Service officers have to sometimes deal with complicated criminal elements. Our reporter THOMAS KACHERE engages Deputy Commissioner of Police, who is also Limbe Police Station Officer-in-Charge, GLADSON CHIPUMPHULA, on strategies put in place to stem cases of crime.

Can you tell us your plans for Limbe?

There are a lot of plans being implemented to combat crime. Firstly, we are conducting intelligence-driven sweeping operations, raids and ambushes in order to arrest suspected criminals. We are, this week, introducing rapid response teams. The officers are undergoing training now. We are conducting patrols with colleagues from Neighbourhood Watch groups in order to enhance security. We are shortly meeting private security service providers, bar owners and other stakeholders in order to share security tips. We have introduced, within the crime management unit, a desk that is responsible for giving feedback to complainants on the progress of their cases. To motivate outstanding officers, we have introduced the Officer of the Month Award. We would like to reward hard-working officers.

Of late, people have been attacked in Limbe. What are you doing about the problem?

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We have a robust monitoring system of officers on duty and their activities in all the strategic areas. We have strengthened and intensified community policing activities in all areas around Limbe to suppress crime from the source. We have introduced foot patrols in town 24/7 and these have already started paying dividends. The first thing we have done is to review the Limbe security plan and come up with results-oriented methods of providing security. We have divided Limbe into zones, with vehicles patrolling in those respective zones. It is high time organisations seriously looked into the plight of these street-connected children. Not only should they focus on their rights but also the pain they inflict on the citizenry when they commit criminal offences. We are working with the District Social Welfare office, which is under the Ministry of Gender, and the courts in order to expedite processes of sending these children to safe homes for rehabilitation once apprehended. There should be legislation in place to guide the police and the courts on how we should be dealing with these street-connected kids. Coordination among all players who deal with children is needed right now to address the issue comprehensively.

Traffic jams are one of your policing area’s problems? How are you addressing the problem?

We are solving the problem of congestion by introducing a new traffic management system for Limbe. As a result, special traffic vehicles and motorcycles will be monitoring all streets of Limbe and areas we watch over. We are procuring police radios to be used by our traffic officers so that they communicate amongst themselves if there is traffic congestion in town. We are reaching out to the city authorities so that we can have sanity in our town and, as far as parking places and spaces for vehicles are concerned, we are ready to enforce the same.

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I understand that the relationship between police officers and the citizenry is getting sour. What are you doing about it?

Reaching out to the general public for collective solutions to some of the challenges we face enhances relationships. We should have empathy when they complain to the police and we should not inflict more pain to the already troubled soul. We are currently inviting complainants to attend court proceedings in order to appreciate what happens when a suspect is granted court bail. Most people have been complaining about, and accusing police of playing a role in, bail issues even when the bail is granted by the court. A good working relationship with the public can be maintained by being honest and professional in our dealings whenever they bring their issues to the police. Plans are in place, and we expect that they will work perfectly, to ensure that we work together and be responsive on issues of security. There is no socio-economic development, private sector investment and economic development of any nation without security.

What would your message to stakeholders?

I would like to see all of us [police officers and service users] realising that we have a responsibility. Let us work as if we are working for God. The darkness in Limbe streets during night time is not dignifying the city. Time has come for us to stop protecting our positions but our integrity. Let me thank the Inspector General of Police, Mr George Adrian Kainja, for the enormous support and leadership he is always giving us. Let us support our police.

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