Control of police abuse of power be done

One way to control police abuse of power and misuse of discretion is for control to come from within the police department. This requires ‘professionalisation’. Police must develop a professional orientation that is sensitive to individual rights. Efficient enforcement of the law is not the sole end of police function.

The police are also responsible for a humane law enforcement policy. This includes conducting interrogations according to cannons of humane process of law, and desisting from dealing with an arrested suspect or with a person who challenges policeman’s abuse of power, in a humiliating manner.

Such professionalisation will go a long way in restoring credibility of the police in the courts which in recent years has been considerably eroded. Judges, prosecutors, lawyers and many educated witnesses in the courts fail to show proper deference to the policemen and often demean their status by treating them as less professional or even unprofessional.


As such, it would be politic on the part of the police to become more judicious in dealing with the people. They should take a suspect into custody not merely for maintaining respect for the police system but for maintaining public morality.

In the tasks of crime detection and repression, police work is considered to be tedious and unglamorous. Much of the time of the police is wasted in providing security to the so-called VIPs.

Little time is spent on patrolling to keep an eye on vagrants, pickpockets, and anti-social elements. Can the police be assigned the task of providing assistance or support on personal or interpersonal problems besides criminal matters?’

Although citizens may not always admire policemen, yet the police are the first persons who come to mind when people want someone to help/rescue them from the complexities of life.


For example, a woman who is frequently battered by her husband would not like to lodge a complaint against her husband and getting him arrested, yet she would like the policeman warn her husband that if he didn’t change his behaviour, he would be arrested and sent to jail.

A tenant would like to have police help to save from his landlord’s harassment. A consumer would like that the police help him in getting the spurious article changed. Is all this ‘social work’?

Can such assignments be called ‘new role’ for the police? Is the strength of the police force large enough for giving them such new ‘jobs’? All this requires not only a study of enforcement practices but also political will for introducing changes.

In fact, the above-mentioned ‘jobs’ are ‘extensions’ of patrolmen’s assignments. Police superiors have to give explicit directives to policemen at the lower level to render this type of ‘help’ to the needy people.


Such ‘help’ can be made ‘paid help’, i.e., anybody using the services of the police will have to pay for such ‘jobs’. Police officers themselves may describe such ideas as ludicrous but what is important is changing the attitude of the police towards the public.

The policemen have to realise that their job is to serve people and not to serve politicians. They have to realise that they have not only to ‘catch’ offenders but also to help the victims. It is true that the police cannot be made to serve as a ‘jack-of-all-trades’ organisation.

Without making more funds and personnel available to the police department, the new tasks cannot be assigned to them. But once it is realised that the scope of the role of the police can be and should be extended beyond the traditional responsibilities, the procedural and manpower limitations can easily be removed.