THE failure by the Zimbabwe Republic Police to train its members to deal with people in a humane manner during times of human crises has seen some officers unnecessarily using cruelty and brutality in handling those that would have violated the 21-day lockdown order.
We must all admit that this is a novel situation we find ourselves in, which has no precedent in the country and other parts of the world, so violations based on ignorance are bound to be encountered.
A professional police force should, indeed, take opportunities like these to educate the public about COVID-19 and why it is important for them to stay at home and self-isolate.
This business of wantonly beating up ordinary people at every given turn only serves to engender an anti-police sentiment in the public when the two communities need each other most.
The police become synonymous with brutality when they are an essential public service that needs the support of the populace to implement effective policing.
It raises a lot of concern that civilians, who allegedly violated the dictates of the 21-day lockdown, have been subjected to severe beatings since the beginning of the week. Is this really necessary at a time such as this?
The force should, indeed, conduct an investigation into this matter and bring the culprits to book for the good of its public image.
What is worrisome is that some of the people that have been beaten up presented genuine cases why they were outdoors.
It is an open secret that police officers that are often deployed to deal with certain situations are not prepared to entertain any explanations, even genuine, and pretend to be ignorant, claiming that their orders are just to “deal” with crowds.
The police need to execute their duties with a high level of professionalism, understanding and empathy at a time like this because we are in this together.
In the high-density suburbs, water problems are indeed an issue, and it does not make sense for the police to beat up people who are fetching water at a public borehole. If they are not observing social distancing, why not simply instruct them to do so as is expected of reasonable people?
Quite clearly, this shows that the police details that are deployed during this lockdown needed to have received some form of orientation on how to handle this situation.
Of course, we all appreciate the need for the maintenance of law and order in the country because of health concerns, but it is not acceptable for the police to abuse their authority and harass people unnecessarily.
Also, the police officers on deployment on this crucial public service are not wearing any protective clothing, becoming a danger to themselves and the public. Please protect our police officers while they carry out this crucial task.