Last week police received a fleet of 65 new vehicles to be used by the National Traffic Unit to patrol highways and for general duties to attend to crime scenes.
The acquisition of the vehicles, the police say, should help ameliorate transport problems in the force, which had crippled operations.
Out of the 65 vehicles, 40 are top-of-the range BMW saloons to be used in patrolling major roads while the other 25 are pick-up trucks to be used in attending to crime scenes.
Added to this are 436 bicycles which have been acquired to augment foot patrols.
The acquisition of vehicles is laudable as it should help to improve police response to crime scenes.
Police have often failed to attend to crime timeously citing transport problems.
The state of police vehicles for a long time has not inspired confidence.
We have often cited a ramshackle police Mazda truck with a shattered windscreen rattling along with policemen patrolling the western end of the capital.
Many rural posts do not either have vehicles or have rickety jalopies which should have retired from the force years ago.
Critical departments like the dog patrol section are not properly equipped to attend to crime scenes because of transport problems.
It sometimes takes hours for the dogs to reach crime scenes when the trail has already gone cold. We have seen the police failing to remove within a reasonable time bodies from accident and homicide scenes.
While acquisition of the 25 trucks would not be enough to adequately equip the force, this is a good start and the public expects to see an improvement in service delivery immediately.
More importantly though, the vehicles must be distributed evenly to also cater for distant rural outposts where police rely on public transport to carry out their duties.
Generally we expected the police to acquire more vehicles to equip police stations than for highway patrol duties.
This is however not to discount the importance of this unit of the force as more and more people continue to die on our roads largely due to human error and the poor state of the roads.
The 40 new patrol vehicles should help to reduce accidents especially involving public transporters. The introduction of the vehicles should also come with a change in tact by highways cops.
More often than not, the officers’ modus operandi is predictable and therefore not as effective.
They usually want to park their patrol vehicles at a particular spot where they spend the greater part of their shift stopping and checking vehicles.
Such spots include the 25km mark at St John’s School along the Harare-Mutoko Road and on 21km from Harare on the road to Bulawayo.
The highway police can do better than this and we hope the new vehicles would help them spread their coverage of the highways where kombis and conventional buses are being driven at speeds exceeding 120km/h which is way above the statutory 80km/h for such vehicles.
They do so on open roads because the drivers know their chances of being caught speeding are slim.
As we go into the Christmas holidays, the public cannot wait to see improved policing of highways and the concomitant reduction in road accidents.
We wait to see the figures after the introduction of the swanky Beemers on the highways.