This is the concluding part of the article carried in last week Monday’s edition
FACTORS AFFECTING THE EFFECTIVENESS OF LAW EFFORCEMENT AGENCIES
Work effectiveness is the key to successful operation in every organization. The prevalence of crime in the world today is a cause for serious concern for all and sundry. It undermines the social fabric by eroding the sense of safety and security. The nature of these crimes include armed robbery, murder, rape, car theft, burglary, fraud, bribery and corruption, food and drug adulteration, gambling, smuggling, human trafficking, kidnapping, drug trafficking, money laundering, cyber fraud and other illegal activities. Therefore, crime control involves the idea of solving crime problems, arresting suspects, prosecuting and incapacitating offenders.
However, the capacity of the law enforcement agencies often been called to question due to the challenges that are usually characterized with the agencies. The challenges include:
- INADEQUATE EQUIPMENTS OR LOGISTICS
Lack of modern equipment to effectively combat crime, is a major concern of law enforcement agencies. For example, vehicles, communication equipment, scientific tools for investigations and intelligence gathering control equipment are grossly inadequate. The implication of non-availability of transport impedes mobility especially, arriving early at crime scenes. In addition, lack of modern equipment means more workload making progress and accomplishments really slow.
- LACK OF MOTIVATION
Motivation is a serious factor as far as efficiency in any endeavor is concern. Motivation goes a long way to encourage a work to maximum capacity. There are some security personnel for example, in the police service, who have been on the same rank for so many years. Some of the barracks are in various states of dilapidation and squalor and are in dire need of renovation to make it habitable for decent conditions of living.
Furthermore, apart from meagre salaries, they also have to operate in less habitable places as offices in addition to poor shelters. They feel demoralized yet the public are quick to blame them once they perform below expectation.
- LACK OF COOPERATION FROM THE PUBLIC AND NEGATIVE PERCEPTION
Crime prevention and control is a collective responsibility and the security agents can’t do it alone. However, majority of the public do not believe in the saying that “the security officer is your friend” either because of past experience or for some other reasons known to them. The public perception has greatly affected the level of support given to them in combating crime. Many refrain from giving valuable information which could have helped to checkmate crime.
Unemployment in the last few years has consistently increased. The rising rate has affected the effectiveness of the law enforcement agencies especially, the police to combat crime. The police are most overwhelmed with the enormity and frequency of crime committed since unemployment readily creates a large army of potential criminals.
- BRIBERY AND CORRUPTION/GREED
Personnel of the law enforcement agencies are well known for their rottenness as many of them especially, police are known to be corrupt. Bribery and corruption are twin canker worms that have eaten deep into the fabrics of societies and organizations. For example, in Ghana, the police are known not to be exempted from this reckless orgy of financial ignominy. Criminals are known to usually bribe their way through and escape the long arm of justice. This has led to the increase in criminal activities since the criminals know that the police could be bought at a price. Arrested criminals are back on the streets again the next day if their go-fathers can negotiate and pay an agreed sum. This has affected the effectiveness of law enforcement in crime prevention and control.
- FAMILY BREAK DOWN
The role of the family in maintaining a stable free society cannot be over-emphasized. The increasing rate of family marriage breakdown and its attendant effect on the children and society at large has become ticking time-bomb because it has given rise to increase in criminal activities by children from broken homes.
- SOCIAL MEDIA
Social media presents a host of issues and challenges for law enforcement in the 21st century from activist organizations sudden protests, gang recruitment tools, terrorism indoctrination, chilling crime, committed live on various social media platforms, to human trafficking, scams and personal security issues for the public and law enforcement. Despite the growth of some positive developments in social media, there are some serious threats that law enforcement must address.
- POOR LEADERSHIP SKILL
The beauty of effective leadership is, once the skills are mastered, a team can become well-oiled and literally functions without much supervision. One of the most dangerous recipes for disorder in any institution or organization is the lack of leadership skills and failing to make your workforce feel important.
Discarding people destroys performance and minimizes any significant plans for the agency. Effective leaders must be physically and emotionally available to employees if their organizations are to be successful. Even more frustrating is when a leader of the agency pays little attention to the staff, showers the community with attention and promises. However, the question we must ask is that, will that leader be able to deliver on any promise he or she makes to the community without the full support of the staff?
One significant role a leader has to his or her organization is being a champion of the people. In doing so, he creates vigor and energy for the workforce to carry out the mission effectively and efficiently. The success of a law enforcement agency is dependent upon the effectiveness of its leaders.
- INADEQUATE TRAINING
In order to cope with the ever increasing challenges of society, well-trained personnel would be an absolute necessity. Employees can contribute to the success of an organization when they are adequately trained to perform their jobs according to industry standards. Inadequate training can severely impact on performance, team morale and organization’s ability to retain good employees.
Poorly trained employees are likely to feel undervalued, which will reduce workplace productivity, loyalty and engagement. It is important that the workforce is adequately trained to acquire the knowledge and skill levels needed to work safely and productively.
ADDRESSING CHALLENGES IN LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES
Every nation or society requires an effective and rational law enforcement system. Gathering, storing and analyzing extensive information are vital to the law enforcement process. Law enforcement in the 21st century is evolving rapidly, as law enforcement agencies face threats and challenges along with increased scrutiny from the public and media. Hence, there is the need for the law enforcement profession to respond with sufficient changes in the areas of leadership, structure, culture policy and technology (i.e. structural and institutional reforms).
Any attempt to address the challenges of law enforcement agencies for effective performance of operations should consider the following factors:-
- RECRUITMENT AND RETENTION STRATEGIES
Recruitment and retaining qualified security officers is one of the greatest challenges facing law enforcement agencies. Low pay, antiquated hiring practices, negative public perception, high attrition rates, exposure to chronic, stress and trauma and increasing responsibilities all contributing to the downturn in the number of applicants.
The gradual exit of experienced officers through retirement is leaving a significant hole in personnel. Their departure means not only the loss of experience and knowledge, but also a vital component of on-the-job training for the next generation of officer. To address this situation with regards to recruitment, law enforcement agencies must seek out officers who reflect the diverse racial and ethnic cultures, genders and generational differences among their citizenry. To start, law enforcement agencies should evaluate existing gaps in their departments by conducting a staffing analysis.
It is also valuable for agencies to outline what type of person constitutes the ideal candidate for their organization. The ideal candidate should be more than qualified for the job, he or she should integrate with the culture of the organization. As part of recruitment strategy, it’s important for leadership to evaluate what makes the agency unique and appealing to potential candidates. Leaders should identify and clearly articulate the core values of the organization and make sure those values permeate every facet of their organization to include recruitment.
Leaders must also assess issues that are likely to prevent ideal candidates from applying. Leaders need to consider the agency’s relationship with stakeholders and how that may affect employment. How is the agency perceived by those in the community, local politicians, the media, administrators and business leaders?
Agencies need to regularly review their hiring practices and policies. They should evaluate current qualification requirements including education minimums, residency requirements and physical fitness standards. Making recruitment and hiring improvements will pay off, as enhanced selection policies often lead to low rates of personnel turnover, few disciplinary problems, high morale, better community relations and more efficient and effective service.
- BUDGET CONSTRAINTS
Government should increase budget allocations to enable the agencies address the problems of logistics and personnel. Linking the budget to operations, shows how resources are allocated to achieve qualitative and quantitative outcomes. In a climate where government bodies are plagued with lingering economic woes and are forced to make very difficult choices about their budgets, most agencies are underfunded. Consequently, it becomes increasing difficult to compete for qualified applicants and to retain experienced personnel.
Increased budgetary allocation will facilitate recruitment of more personnel, improve incentives, including salaries and accommodation and modernized information and communication technology (ICT) capabilities.
- POOR INFRASTRUCTURE/LOGISTICS
The infrastructure deficit of law enforcement agencies should be given the needed attention by:-
- Renovating existing barracks.
- Constructing additional barracks.
- Constructing more police stations.
- Rehabilitating outdated and ageing jail infrastructure.
- Providing adequate logistics like vehicles of all categories, investigative tools, forensic laboratories, modern and sophiscated communication and information gauges, all to improve the efficiency and welfare of security personnel. The provision of the above-mentioned requirements will also improve the quality of investigations and criminal records management to enhance efforts at stemming rising crime. Lack of effective criminal records keeping has stifled criminal control mechanisms and the slowness of criminal trials, which impacts negatively on security personnel work.
- FAIR AND CLEAR REWARD SYSTEM
The system for considering promotions and reward in the law enforcement agencies should be improved and adjusted to be fairer and clearer by using real values of work performance to identify “Key Performance Indicators” or KPI’s. To acquire a fair and explicit system for considering promotions and rewards, the law enforcement agencies could set up a framework as a central standard and then release it as a rule for Commanders from Headquarters. This will motivate personnel to be committed and give of their best.
- ADEQUATE TRAINING
The efficiency of law enforcement today, is commensurate with the degree of training of its personnel. The effect of training and education of law enforcement personnel is especially important because it helps personnel to override natural inclinations, biases or reservations they encounter while in the performance of their duty. They should be given further training in human rights, accountability and the role of the security personnel in a democracy. Training and education improve the overall effectiveness and efficiency of law enforcement personnel.
Training did not only allows them to stay up-to-date with new laws and legislation but also remain sharp with new security tactics and evolving trends in criminal activities. Training will also increase their productivity by utilizing their newly acquired skills and talents to enhance their experiences, which ultimately boosts their self-esteem and self-motivation. Maintaining training needs and the motivation of personnel, are key concepts for reducing turnover rate and increasing retention rate. Regular training will help law enforcement personnel by reducing organizational strain, increase mental awareness and develop their interpersonal skills, competence and confidence.
Law enforcement agencies have a responsibility to put forth 100% of their effort to combat potential problems within their given geographical arena. Anything less than 100% results in grievances, liabilities and a poor public profile, not to mention missed opportunities, distractions and complacency.
Since an effective system of government that prides itself on democracy and good governance is at the forefront of all nations as they embrace the 21st century, it is critical important that democratic countries build effective institutions and enhance institutional capacities to deal with corrupt practices. Corruption by its very nature, undermines the rule of law and good governance and ultimately, forfeits the public trust and confidence in those institutions, whether they are governmental or private. Corruption should be treated with urgency it deserves at all levels and the prosecution of all offending personnel remains the strongest deterrent.
This measure is very necessary since these officials often exercise a large amount of discretion when carrying out their duties. It is vital that the citizenry perceives that the discretion is being carried out in an even-handed manner. As guardians of the law, law enforcement provides the direct link between the justice system and civil society.
There are other measures apart from prosecution of offending personnel that can be implemented to prevent corruption. No single measure can address corruption influences entirely nor is there a single “cure” for corruption or its influences. As measures are implemented, enterprising minds are working to overcome those measures-this is the frailty of the human condition.
This requires continued training of both law enforcement personnel and society so that citizens know what they should expect from the law enforcement. It is also important that personnel receive regular promotions and adequate salaries and incentives so that there is less incentive for corrupt behaviour.
Furthermore, there should be a way that citizens can complain of personnel misbehavior and a methodology for these complaints to be honestly and adequately addressed. Overcoming a culture of corruption in law enforcement, will require the dedication of those in power to forgo benefits that accrue through corruption – it is only then can real strides be made.
- CHANGE IN LEADERSHIP STYLE
The rapidly changing political and social climate in every country presents new challenges for law enforcement and requires exceptional leaders to navigate through them. Law enforcement administrators and line supervisors must possess leadership skills that allow them to connect with a wide-ranging demographic within their agency while remaining dedicated to their primary mission of serving the public.
The success of a law enforcement agency is dependent upon the effectiveness of its leaders. In law enforcement, two leadership styles are very critical. These are (i) Situational leadership style that requires leaders to quickly assess a situation and recognize the appropriate personnel and resources needed for a specific mission. (ii) Transformational leadership style which is the second one, focuses on encouraging the success of others. A transformational leader develops a vision of the future intended to excite and inspire followers. Ideally, transformational leaders create valuable and positive change in their followers with the end goal of teaching them to become leaders.
The role of law enforcement rarely remains fixed, but the methods by which law enforcement officers serve and protect, shifts with the political climate ( Source: Nicole Cain – American Military University). Hence law enforcement leaders must understand the nuances of the profession and the shifting political to guide their members. Law enforcement leader must possess certain attributes that influence others to follow. These attributes include:-
- Hierarchy awareness and delegation skills.
- Ability to motivate and reward.
- Knowledge of the field, encourage education and professional growth.
- Caring about officers’ well-being.
National development includes all aspects of life of an individual and the nation. It is the all-round and balanced development of different aspects and facets of the nation namely, political, social, economic, cultural, religious, scientific, and material (Source: John Vaizey – noted economist). Consequently, the agenda as outlined above for Regulatory and Law Enforcement Agencies is of immense proportions. It necessities a bold set of actions ranging from updating laws, augmenting regulatory approaches and refining enforcement strategies to meet the existing and emerging challenges of rapid growth. As economies continue to accelerate and the demand for new development increases, the performance of Regulators and Law Enforcement Agencies will come under increased scrutiny and pressure.
The needed institutional changes, however, cannot be achieved overnight (or even over a year), as many of the measures would involve further examination, design and consultation with the public, other government agencies and the regulated community. It is however, important to move quickly towards a broad agreement with all major stakeholders on the priority actions, based on the identified list, and develop a medium-term programme of implementing the agreed measures, supported by necessary resources, monitorable targets and clear accountability mechanisms.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
ROBERT OWUSU is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Bankers (Ghana). A seasoned banker with wide experience in Retail Banking, Internal Auditing, Project Management, Electronic Banking with high specialty in Internet Banking. He is also a Consultant and a Supervisor of CIB examination.
E-mail address: [email protected]