What has happened to modern policing?

June 13, 2019 @ 12:23AM
By Datuk Seri Akhbar Satar
Policing has traditionally been reactive while modern policing is more proactive.  FILE PIC

IN February last year, Taman Tun Dr Ismail (TTDI) reaped the rewards of being one of the first to be part of a modern policing initiative by the Royal Malaysia Police which took almost 20 months with a significant reduction in crime rate. The pilot programme, which started in June 2016, helped crime rates go down by 40 per cent, as well as improve the overall public perception of crime in the area.

TTDI police station chief Deputy Supt Ahmad Mohsin Md Rodi said the programme has brought the community and police closer together. A study done by Pemandu showed that the public’s perception of crime in TTDI has also dropped from 59 per cent in 2016 to only 18 per cent in 2017.

According to TTDI residents, their relationship with the police has also improved significantly.  The modern policing programme worked well with community policing programme as residents could see the police patrolling and keeping the place safe.

But what has happened to this modern policing initiative in other districts? The TTDI police station was the first to see  modern policing and now, sadly, it may be the last. During the time of former inspector-general of police Tan Sri Fuzi Haron, modern policing was not given priority although it improved   the police force’s  image and gained respect from the rakyat.

In November, Bukit Aman Management Department director Commissioner Datuk Seri Asri Yusoff said more than 500 or 65 per cent  of the 791 police stations in the country were facing a shortage of personnel, including police station chiefs.

Balancing traditional training components (technical and tactical aspects of policing) with working with the community as partners to achieve safety is essential. 

This policing can assist the police to overcome the shortage of personnel.

Policing has traditionally been reactive while modern policing is more proactive.  Traditional policing has had very little impact on reducing crime rates, while modern policing is expected to assist community-based policing in efforts to reduce crime at a much faster rate. 

Modern policing also involves the latest software, equipment and assets which will be given to the police at all levels, especially at crime hotspots. This includes better equipment for police personnel, including protective gear for police officers, logistics tools, as well as non-lethal weapons like stun guns, car video cameras body cameras and other system enhancements.

The use of software allows the police to check the database to hunt for crime patterns in robberies, thefts and other crimes at the click of a button.

The investigations can be conducted in a more professional manner and the case solved faster. 

The traditional method of investigating crime by going through reports is slow and could result in inaccurate analysis.

Big data technology can assist the police to become more proactive  as big data can detect, deter and prevent crimes. 

Using the person-based predictive policing theory, the police can identify potential criminal activity. The computer and big data can predict who might be violent or the target of a shooting.

This information is very important to the police when seeking to track criminal elements in society.  American police departments are using predictive policing to deter crime and many mystery cases have been solved accordingly.

Increasingly in a high-tech world, there will be more crimes involving technology and police must be prepared to work on upgrading the force by adopting evidence-based policing strategies that can effectively deter, detect crime and adapt their services to meet future needs. 

Many studies show that the traditional policing model is no longer effective and discordant with principles of good governance.

Therefore it is important for the police to have best practices and good governance, thorough overhaul of personnel, strategies and training within their departments.

The force should continue with modern policing, which has been practised in Europe and the United States.

It is practical to continue modern policing in Malaysia. Modern policing is a “people business” and not an “enforcement business”.

The social outreach is vital in today’s police management. It will result in an incredible improvement in relationship between the police and rakyat.

In 2012, the police  and the Federal Department of Town and Country Planning (FDTCP) unveiled a GPS-based crime fighting tool to improve community safety and promote a culture of crime prevention.

Integrating crime data from the Police Reporting System with FDTCP’s land use information, the Safe City Monitoring System (SCMS) acts as a single-point-of-truth for authorities, allowing them to identify potential hotspots, and closely monitor existing trouble areas.

In addition to streamlining collaboration between hundreds of law enforcement agencies, SCMS has also allowed police to move away from pin maps — a dated method formally used to visualise crime information.

Crime mapping should be rebranded and widely used by the authorities in Malaysia to visualise, analyse, and identify crime incident patterns and hotspots. 

It is believed with the appointment of the new IGP, police services are ready to embrace cultural, technological, operational and organisational changes.

There are many new policing strategies and the police can take a wide and holistic approach to bring these changes.

We want to regain the achievement in 2011 when the Global Peace index ranked Malaysia as the most peaceful country in Southeast Asia and the fourth safest in the Asia Pacific.

Last year, we were ranked 25th in the Asia Pacific.  Modern policing will go a long way to bring us up again as a peaceful and safe nation.

The writer  holds a Professorial Chair for Crime and Criminology at the Institute of Crime & Criminology, HELP University, and is the former president of Transparency International Malaysia and President of the Malaysia Association of Certified Fraud Examiners