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Opinions of Sunday, 12 March 2017

Columnist: Abdul Hanan Mohammed EL-Saeed

Customer service - The Police way

"Every caller is a potential ally. He will describe his treatment to his friends: Thus is the fabric of public opinion woven. Police can only work properly and effectively with the accord and goodwill of the public. Let us, therefore, merit this goodwill"

So says that wonderful inscription on the inner walls of police stations in the past.

This "police customer service" scribble was always seen hanging in any police station worth its name in the past for a couple reasons. Although this scribble is still very important and relevant, it is gradually vanishing from the walls of many police stations and this raises germane questions;

When was the last time you sighted this in any police station in your locality?

Is it at your local police station?

If you are a police officer, do you know about this, seen it, or perhaps have you ever heard about it before?

That was the police administration's way of communicating to its "clients" (members of the public) in the past detailing how ready they were ready to give anybody who called at the police station, "a listening ear" to make them feel at home anytime they were at the police station either as arrested persons, as suspects, as witnesses or on friendly missions.

Call it extraordinary customer service strategy, and you will not be wrong. It worked perfectly in the past and got the to public feel comfortable in dealing with the police for both police and junior officers to respect the rights of members of the public who came into contact with them.

It enhanced trust between the police and the civilian population.

This beautiful piece of information has suddenly vanished from many police stations across the country for some unexplained reasons.

Could this be the reason why there is a gradually behavioural degeneration of some members of the service where they no longer see members of the public as allies of the but channels through which they can fill their pockets.

That piece of quotation is sharp reminder of the clever way the police in the past communicated to it clients.

Customer service as I have termed it the police service' way was one smart move to make things simple for the public but unfortunately many police officers do not know about it in order to even get it posted at their various stations.

They do not read about things that were done in the past, so do not put things of such nature into practice.

Is a shame we got such brilliant ideas long before customer service became a corporate phenomenon but yet we abandoned it somewhere.

In recent times, in many of the police stations across the country, one will not find this inscriptions that in the past guided members of the service to treat the civil population as partners in the fight against crime any longer.

Customer service as we have come to learn, is the act of taking care of your customers needs by consciously providing and delivering acceptable, desirable, professional, high quality standard service and assistance before, during and after the customer's requirements are met.

One would not be wrong if you were to conclude that before customer service became a corporate mantra, the police had a perfect statement for its "customers" who visited the police stations.

In the past, any police officer who was familiar with that statement, portrayed and radiated a certain professional demeanor befitting of a professional police officer.

In my view, those who still understand, live and practice the police version of customer service are the ones who know what rights of arrested persons are.

They are the ones who know that every person arrested or detained, is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of competent jurisdiction.

They are the ones who understand that arrested persons are not supposed to suffer humiliation, torture or coerced whilst in custody.

Such categories of police officers fall in the category of officers who live the police service's "customer service mantra" who will always tell persons they restrain or detain the reasons why such an action has been taken against them so that even long after they leave the confines of the station, they will still see the police as their friend.

Police officers who see all callers at the station as potential allies, shall at all times be fair, firm, just and impartial in their dealings with members of the public. Those are the category of officers who know what time is it.

These officers treat all suspects with respect and tactful professionalism. They are not corrupt neither can they be corrupted.

So I humbly ask colleagues, why have we abandoned our pact with the public? Why are we gradually making our allies aliens to our various stations by engaging in acts that are unbecoming of the professional officers we are supposed to be?

Let's get back to the basis...

...when we saw our clients as allies and not aliens. Let's go back to the era when we treated them fairly and even if we had to use force against them when it was necessary to do so, we used justifiable force with some proportionality according to the level of resistance so that when we finally succeed in overpowering a suspect, he didn't become our enemy after leaving the station.

The "customers/clients/allies" of the police are the suspects, witnesses, complaints, and all who call at the various police stations for one reason or another. Let's treat them well. They could be our potential allies in the discharge of our constitutional mandates.

If we treat our clients in the best of ways, they will tell other people how good they have been treated and this can enhance the public perception about us. They will give us free good word of mouth adverts which can enhance our image.

The time has come for us to revisit our "customer service message" and post it back on the walls of our various police stations to win back the support of the public to help fight crime like it was done in the past?

"My mouth has fallen" another person should continue from where I stopped...

Abdul Hanan Mohammed EL-Saeed
Chiraa Police station
Sunyani District/BAR
0244087295
Panacin@gmail.com