IG ARASE FLAG’S OFF RE-BRANDED SARS; ORDERS REVIEW OF WEAPONS PROFILE.
***Launch Complaints Response Unit.
Following what he described as the public’s concern about the less than professional working ethic, unorthodox dress code and accusation of flagrant abuse of human rights its operations, Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase, yesterday launched a rebranded, re-kitted and re-equipped Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and the new Nigeria Police Complaint Response unit (CRU).
Describing allegations of rights abuse and absence of ethical standards as major source of public disdain for the police force, the IGP said, “These negatives constitute a source of civil litigations and attendant huge Ganishee Orders hanging on lean budgetary profile of the Force”.
“Most importantly, it raises questions as to why a police Force constitutionally emplaced and armed to protect lives and property of the citizens would evolve to one that becomes uncivil to the same citizens by their actions or inactions or dress menacingly to build a wedge between them and the citizens”.
Explaining that the concern of members of the public is not about the operational potency of SARS, as it is believed SARs squads across all commands represent a pool of highly courageous, gallant, loyal and zealous officers ready to engage armed robbers and lay down their lives, the IGP said, “The resonating concern of members of the public is their mode of operation”.
“The Force leadership is therefore convinced that time has come to break from the past by rebranding the SARS nationwide through a phased programme that will retain the operational zeal but subsume sound, civil and accountable professional practices” .
Continuing the IGP said, “In the days to come, the weapon profile of SARS will be reviewed towards the engagement of less lethal technologies/weapons system such as electro-muscular disruption technology (Taser or Stun guns) for components of their operations to reduce incidents of fatalities associated with application of lethal weapons”.
“Our projection is that within the next one year, the entire SARS in all Police Formations would have undergone the rebranding programme and their mode of operation, dress code would have been subsumed under the rule of law and aligned to the expectations of the citizens”.
Regarding the new Complaints Response unit, the IGP said, “In Nigeria, the perception is that the Force lacks clear mechanism which members of the public can explore in reporting professional misconducts of police personnel for administrative intervention and obtaining feedbacks”.
“The missing link, it must be admitted, had been the inability of the Nigeria police to take full advantage that ICT offers to strengthen its accountability mechanism.
“It is in acknowledgment of these policing realities that the leadership of the Nigeria Police Force resolved to establish the Complaint response Unit (CRU) at both Force headquarters and Field Command levels. The CRU will act as a central, ICT-driven public complaint unit of the force”.
“It will take advantage of ICT and social media platform to interface with the public towards receiving and processing complaints from members of the public and giving requisite feedback on actions taken on such complaints. It is designed to complement existing in-house public complaint monitoring and processing frameworks”, the IGP said.