New IGP, Deputy IGP must ensure Malaysia a safe haven for all

Last week, we saw the appointment of two distinguished senior police officers, Tan Sri Razarudin Husain as the Inspector General of Police (IGP) and Datuk Seri Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay as the Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG), for the little more than two-century-old Royal Malaysia Police.

In contemporary democratic societies, police leadership plays a crucial role in ensuring the safety and security of citizens while also upholding the principles of justice, fairness, and equality. In other words, a colour-blind leadership that will serve every citizen and resident in Malaysia without prejudice or discrimination.

Public expectations are high. They will not tolerate inefficient and ineffective leaders.

Professional and effective police leaders must possess the necessary science, skills, knowledge, and attributes to navigate the complexity, diversity, and challenges of policing in a diverse society like ours.

This commentary will address the various aspects of police leadership in a diverse and democratic society.

Integrity is one of the most important qualities of a professional and effective police leader.

Police leaders must be ethical, accountable, and have a strong moral compass to carry out their duties without fear or favour.

Professional police leaders must adhere to high standards of conduct and hold themselves and their subordinates accountable for their actions while performing their duties.

They must inspire trust and confidence among their officers and society at large.

They must serve fairly and justly regardless of the socio-demographic characteristics of their communities, as all men and women stand equal.

The leadership must also develop sensitivity and compassion to treat citizens and residents with dignity and respect, especially victims of crime.

Professional police leadership must demonstrate the ability to adapt to changing circumstances and needs of society. They must be able to adopt innovative and strategic approaches to policing.

In a contemporary evolving society, police leaders must be open to new models, technology, and strategies to combat the challenges and increasing complexity and diversity of crime.

They must also constantly assess emerging threats and vulnerabilities and analyse data to make informed decisions to ensure the safety and security of all citizens and residents.

Another crucial component of professional and effective police leadership is communication skills. This is a vital and eminent attribute of police leaders.

They must articulate their vision and mission clearly to their officers and society. This will facilitate and enhance understanding and cooperation between police and society.

Transparent communication fosters trust and confidence among the public. This will support effective collaboration, engagement and partnership with all segments of society.

It will also enable police leaders to address societal concerns and clarify misconceptions and myths.

This process will facilitate gathering valuable feedback to improve policing and crime prevention strategies. Police leaders must also promote and maintain strong ties with the media.

They must be accessible to the media, especially in high-profile cases, and must cease to practise censorship. The only exception is if any publicity may seriously jeopardise the ongoing police investigation.

Leaders in the force must possess strong interpersonal skills to build and maintain positive relationships with their officers, community stakeholders, and other law enforcement agencies. In a multi-ethnic and cultural society, human relations is a crucial element.

Thus, police leaders must be able to motivate, inspire, and mentor their subordinates, empowering them to perform their duties effectively.

By creating an environment of trust, respect, and support, they can maximise the potential of their teams and enhance overall departmental performance.

However, police leadership in contemporary democratic society faces multiple challenges. One major challenge is the increasing complexity and diversity of criminal activities.

The top leadership in the police force must constantly monitor and keep abreast of new trends and emerging threats such as cybercrime, terrorism, scams, and organised crime.

They must continuously update their knowledge and skills to effectively respond to these challenges and protect the people and communities they serve.

They need to balance public safety with the protection of individual rights and civil liberties as per the federal constitution, and other human rights declarations must be of top priority.

These top officers must be able to navigate complex legal and ethical dilemmas when making decisions that may infringe upon individual rights in the pursuit of justice.

They must ensure that their actions are proportionate, lawful, and respectful of the principles enshrined in democratic societies.

They must also ascertain the building and sustaining of public trust and confidence in law enforcement. Police misconduct or abuses of power frequently erode public trust, leading to animosity and strained relationships between the police and the people they are sworn to serve and protect.

It is the responsibility of the current police leadership to foster transparency, accountability, and sensitivity to regain and maintain public trust and respect.

They must actively engage with members of society, listen with compassion to their concerns, and address grievances promptly and impartially.

The outcome of grievances must be made public or at least to the complainant or be deemed to have been swept under the carpet.

Professional and effective police leaders often employ various strategies to overcome ever-emerging challenges. The force must continue to prioritise the role of the crime prevention and community safety department.

For this department to carry out efficient crime prevention initiatives and programmes, they need adequate funding.

The cost would outweigh the negative impact of crime and create a more knowledgeable society on crime prevention and victimisation.

Community-oriented policing must also involve community stakeholders to identify and help resolve problems. Solely relying on reactive law enforcement strategies creates a negative public perception.

Partnerships with stakeholders will enhance public safety, mutual trust, and confidence.

It is also imperative that leaders must embrace evidence-based practices when it applies to decision-making, procedures, and policies. They must analyse crime patterns, assess risk factors, and allocate resources effectively to target crime hotspots and prevent criminal activities.

By utilising technology, statistical modelling, and predictive and proactive policing techniques, our top cops can fully optimise their allocated resources and respond proactively to emerging threats and risks.

Malaysia’s newly appointed IGP and DIG must recognise the importance of diversity and inclusivity in policing.

They must, without hesitation, actively promote and support diverse recruitment and retention practices to build and fine-tune the force that reflects the diversity that strengthens Malaysia.

This will also enhance cultural understanding, reduce biases, and increase societal legitimacy.

Police leadership in a diverse and democratic society requires individuals with integrity, accountability, adaptability, strong communication, and interpersonal skills.

With Home Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail, the current IGP and DIG can make a difference and keep Malaysia a safe haven for all.

This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Twentytwo13.


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