MPS’ Operational Priorities for 2012

Strategizing the policing business got introduced to MPS in 2007 by a Western Australia Police Superintendent who was here on a one year secondment. Understandably and for obvious reasons the leadership during that time were too occupied in the operational front. The first Strategic Plan (2007-2010) was themed and crafted around building infrastructure and laying foundations to a democratic police set up. Both were imperatives given the early days after separation from the military and the democratization processes at the time.

In March 2010, I was fortunate to travel to Scotland and visit several police institutions there to learn professional practices in intelligence. Having benefited from the knowledge I gained over the years and a very useful travel to UK, I was determined to professionalize a business area in police. To achieve this, I put up a team of learned individuals, planned ourselves and got busy in reorientation.

Then came the time to craft a new strategy for the next three years (2011-2013). Didn’t take that big an effort to convince the leadership to seek UK’s assistance to develop our Strategic Plan. We sent three senior officers to the UK, trained them and with the assistance of the experts, developed a strategy for three years. This plan had a strategic assessment, identified priority crime areas/issues that affected public safety and security and also outlined management and governance priorities. In simple terms, it explained what RISKS are there to public safety and security, what RESOURCES we require and how we use those and how do we achieve and measure RESULTS. The Strategic Plan, its associated Action Plans and implementation mechanisms were simple. We had big plans to impact the crime environment through these and in 2011 spent a fair amount of time educating different levels in MPS on it.

Now that MPS has a new leadership, a new set of operational priorities have been announced; Drug Trafficking, Organized Crime, Violent Crime, Counter Terrorism and Road Safety. I do not see these priorities any different from the Strategic Assessment for 2011-2013 and the priorities it outlined. Once cross organizational action plans are put into implementation, we will have MPS systematically working on the priority areas and achieving results. Unlike the last two times, this year we have made police executives account to each operational priority. For becoming more efficient we will have to patiently wait for a time that allows a cut down in public order policing resources. Then only we could step up efforts in response, community focused and intelligence driven policing. Having said this, I understand that a lot of work being done in all fronts though not directed by cross organizational arrangements for the time being.

We all must keep in mind that during this difficult time it is essential that our actions are right in order to rebuild public trust and confidence in us.

You all are welcome to make comments here in regards to MPS’ ability to impact the crime environment we have.

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I am back!

After completing studies and rejoining for work at MPS, I decided not to blog. The other reason to not blog was to respect an individual’s advice, someone whom I highly regard.

A brief recap of the last 3 years in my professional life!

The last 3 years; one with the Police Academy and two with the Intelligence, had been the most hectic in my police career. Intelligence especially was the busiest and the most challenging area. The team there was the best I ever had in my long police career. For that I publicly extend my deepest appreciation to all officers and staff who worked with me in Intelligence. With their immense support, I am content with the contribution towards professionalizing that area which now is core to policing. Over the two years, we as a team managed to give MPS a more clear understanding on intelligence that is relevant to policing business. We developed systems, mechanisms, knowledge and people to make intelligence workable and contribute to MPS’s efforts in fighting crime.

Now that I am in a ‘not so busy’ position, I hope to write here frequently.
At MPS I am now responsible for leading the areas of people, training & education and ICT.

@milkcrab is my Twitter account in case you wish to follow!

MPS’ mindset and effective policing

The most heavily discussed issue over the last 7 days has been the release of 100 over convicts and the subsequent rise in criminal activities in Male’.  This issue has put immense pressure on the law enforcement arm, MPS. In a press briefing held by the organization, one of my colleagues made quite a statement on this issue that has sparked some controversy. My stand on his statement is that it was too political and was formed from a legal perspective rather than from a policing perspective. I do not intend to deliberate on that statement or the effects due to the release of these convicts under a parole or presidential pardon. My concern here is of the policing context and I will try to give insight on some of the issues that are to some extent hindering the functionality of MPS. Although I have been away from the operational policing function since 2004, I am in touch with officers who are in frontline policing who shares their concerns with me.

Resentment within

It is not a secret that the frontline police officers are resentful towards the different levels of management in MPS. A comment left by an anonymous police officer on one of the articles published on the internet version of Haveeru Daily (14th Dec 2008) is bare evidence to it. The component, Capital Police, responsible for policing Male’ feels that they are too burdened with the job without adequate breaks and believes that they are being treated unfairly when other components within MPS get to enjoy breaks. This is of great risk to MPS if the frontline officers are fed up or unwilling to perform their duties. It is imperative that the organization look into these issues seriously and find better solutions.

Mindset and Culture

I recall what John Robertson, a retired Scottish police officer said in his 2006 Review Report on the Capital Police. He described our policing as to the like of ‘fire station policing’ which means our approach is very reactive. It is pointless to mention the recommendations he put in that report which I don’t see getting implemented much. My assessment is that we still are reactive to incidences of crime and have this traditional culture of asking the superior for every single step that needs to be taken at the tactical level of frontline policing. We need to move away from this practice and empower the constables to make decisions so that they get more involved and take initiative in the efforts to prevent crime. The supervisory levels in the frontline policing need to have better working relationship with the officers out on the streets and constantly guide them during their pre and post duty briefs to encourage initiative and self discretion.

Restructuring and redeployment

I cannot exercise the liberty of revealing how many of MPS’ officers are dedicated to frontline policing when we still have a culture in that we believe revelation of figures is a ‘sin’. All I can say is we have a pretty good police to public ratio and the land area we have to cover as you all know is very small. My assessment is that MPS have too many officers dedicated for support functions and there always has been a need to allocate and deploy more officers into frontline policing. During the formation stages to become a separate entity from the old NSS, we have copied the MNDF’s organizational structure with very slight modifications. We still have positions filled in by sworn police officers that can either be replaced by civilian workers or merged into another function. The likes of uniform section, catering section, administrative units have too many trained and sworn police officers issuing uniform items or doing desk jobs rather than being on the streets to fight crime. I believe there is a need to review our resource deployment and restructure the organization to cater for an effective policing strategy that focuses on frontline policing.

MPS’ Elite

Unlike ACP Abdulla Riyaz’s version of elite force, I call the officers in MPS with sound academic background who are energetic, ever enthusiastic and who can put innovation into MPS if opportunity is given, the real elite of the organization. We have some of the best of people in the nation to steer MPS towards the direction our people want to see us going. Whatever the reason may be, we have recruited or have attracted people who holds good academic credentials suiting to our organizational development. Why cannot we make the most of these people for reviewing our current practices and seek innovative ways for effective policing, regardless of the ranks they hold? We have so many advisory boards within MPS in which senior officers dedicate their valuable time discussing on the simplest issues like the size of water bottle officers are allowed to drink. My belief is that if we make the most use of these scholarly practitioners that we have in MPS, we can move towards change, innovation and effectiveness.

In light of the above issues, I believe we are not well placed to criticize the government’s decision to release some 116 convicts into Male’. I agree that we are one party that needs to be consulted when making such a decision. Even if the government’s decision is irrational or conflicting with laws, we cannot whine about it. It is the parliament’s job to decide on the legitimacy of that decision. Our job is to reassure our people that restoring safety and security is what we are going to do. It is a good sign that we have begun Stop and Searches in Male’, Villingili and HulhuMale’ and the introduction of an old but effective concept like ‘Dhanmaanu’ (an additional patrol shift consisting of police officers from other support departments) is commended. However, we do not have to put Superintendents and Chief Inspectors on the streets to do frontline policing. Considering the points highlighted above, they can devise a sustainable strategy to deter and reduce crime using intelligence as a critical tool. We must not act alone to devise this strategy as we are only a component that is most visible in the whole criminal justice system. We have to draw our partners in the system to work on a strategy that would make our societies safe, secure and tolerant. Before doing that, we need to clean our own backyard.

A thought on National Security

I believe we have a problem in hand, a problem that we might be faced with if we do not seriously think about and take proper measures. Our neighbour and strategic partner, India has recently seen a wave of terror attacks that targeted western tourists. Most recently, last week’s terror attack in Mumbai, a series of attacks with meticulous planning that shocked the world, took the elite forces of India 60 hrs to bring an end to. It is still not clear who is responsible for the attacks although reports are emerging that it has been linked to Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, a Pakistani based international terrorist organization that is said to have links with Al Qaeda. Indian security forces took 10 hrs to respond to the initial site of attack and its intelligence machinery has failed to prevent this attack that killed over 180 people. This has put the Indian national security architecture on the drawing board and has led to the resignation of key government figures related to homeland and national security.

Maldivian Context

I cannot put anything here about the Mumbai attack that you have not got from open source materials, nor am I trying to make an analysis of it. My emphasis here is that our small nation, the Maldives needs to act on to prevent to our best of abilities if not review our capabilities to prevent, respond to and tackle such threats to our national security. Tourism is our main source of income and hence it is vital to our economy, therefore the protection of the tourism industry should be one of our national security interests. If we do a recap of recent incidents that have threatened our national security, we all know that the intrusion by a LTTE vessel into our territorial waters, the Sultan Park bombing, stand off at the island of Himendhoo and the assassination attempt on former president Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom were serious national security breaches. We now have added worries or risks in the form of the current economic crisis, maritime terrorism/piracy that has become rampant and now terrorists targeting tourists.

A National Security Strategy

To my understanding, I do not know if we have a national security strategy. If not, then it is high time we formulate one. This would require the chief security institutions; MNDF and MPS to sit together to make assessments and identify threats to our national security. Perhaps the newly created post of National Security Advisor currently held by the former Chief of Defence Force, Major General Mohamed Zahir could be made the chair of a National Security Committee, appointed by the president with the approval of parliament. No matter how small we are or how poor in resources, we are not  immune  or unconsidered to contemporary threats. The threats are real and we have witnessed it close by. We have issues ranging from climate change/natural disasters, economic security, religious extremism, home grown terrorism, neglected critical infrastructure and organized crime to mention a few that might threaten our nation’s security if we do not act accordingly.

This is an era nations are rethinking and rebuilding their security architecture to deal with asymmetric threats. For us, formulating a comprehensive and holistic National Security Strategy for the next 5 years would be the starting point. Next could be to build on to it by reviewing and improving our capabilities with a greater focus on benefiting from strategic alliances and through bilateral, plurilateral or multilateral cooperation with the international community to strengthen our nation’s security.

The Nice Guy

I met an ex-police officer today on Facebook chat and had a long conversation over my infamous blogging. He is of the view that I am a bit over the line in expressing myself on this blog, a view formed from the things people in police are talking of me. He thinks that by writing on my encounters with Mohamed Nasheed, I want to be seen as the “nice guy”. That may be one view and I respect anyone who has that view. There are rumors being spread inside MPS that I have campaigned for a candidate during election. Those are untrue and unfounded. I admit that I once had “I support Dr. Hassan Saeed” on my Facebook status and my belief is that it does not amount to campaigning. I am well aware of those who campaigned and how they did it. As far as the CHANGE is concerned, although I am not a big fan of the current president, I saw CHANGE as the solution for much of our problems from a professional police officer’s standpoint.

There are few officers who believe what I have written here (on this blog) will affect my career in the future and had advised me to be prepared for the consequences. They too believe I am the next Ahmed Faisal of MPS, for whom I have high regards for being one officer who stood up for what he believed in. Others went a step ahead to say that it was a mistake to further educate me on MPS’ expense. In spite of these negative views there were people supportive of me and my intent. They appreciated me for speaking my mind out and for being a transparent person. I have always been outspoken and transparent in my police career and people who know me better are testimony to this claim. This might be the reason why many of my colleagues do not approve of me and my concerns. I don’t believe in anonymity and I know of people who are cowardly enough to use this platform as a cover to express their views and concerns.

What I express here is truly intended for professionalizing my organization and my dear colleagues. I can’t help those who think I am too controversial. I have been there among you people since I was 18 and have experienced many things. Today, I hold a commissioned rank, am decorated with 6 ribbons, professionally and academically trained for the job; all achieved during the time of the outgoing government and Commissioner Adam Zahir. This does not mean I have to be ignorant on issues that I see are critical for the future of my organization and my people. It does not matter where my seniors assign me to work in or how they regard me; all that matters is how much I can contribute for the betterment of the organization. I will continue to serve my nation in the capacity of a police officer. Will join you soon!

Small Arms, Bomb Squad and the Elite Force!!!

In a very recent function held to give away certificates of appreciation in recognition of Special Operations Command (SOC) and Dignitary Protection Unit’s hard work during recent operations, ACP Riyaz talked of two things; carrying fire arms (small arms) and establishing a Bomb Squad in 2009. He also praised the SOC by referring to them as “the Elite Force” of MPS. Understandably, they were the hardest hit component as far as the outcome of the presidential election is concerned. Praising SOC to this level is not my concern, however the issue of carrying fire arms (small arms) and establishing a Bomb Squad is; and I hope that this concern is shared by the nation as well.

The new Police Act empowers police to carry and use fire arms in times of need. Even then the questions are; do we need to have our officers carrying fire arms? Based on what assessment or estimate are we making this move? It has only been 4 years since MPS’ establishment and we have a lot to achieve in order to become a full fledged police organization. For me, acquiring fire arms and specializing in an area such as bomb defusing, does not fall under that. I believe that we have not successfully instilled the very principles of policing in the minds of a majority of our officers. Issuing these officers with fire arms or to the least ‘less lethal weapons’ would be an inappropriate move at this stage. I myself have experienced how they use the very minimum force in situations requiring the application of force. One might argue that the current volatility in terms of security in the nation requires us to move towards this paramilitaristic approach. I would counter this argument by saying we already have an organization by the name of MNDF to collaborate with us in such times where we have to resort to the use of excessive force in the interest of public safety or national security.

MPS and Interoperability

I believe interoperability is what we need to have with MNDF or other such services or agencies concerning national security, law enforcement, emergency or crisis management. We need to draw up strategies, plans and protocols and not just leave them on shelves but also put them into practice by rehearsing and revising. If the MNDF are unwilling to follow this path as talked by many, then it is the government or parliament’s role to step in to make sure that happens. If a piece of legislation is required to make this work then be it. Our nation is poor and the world community is sliding into the depths of a recession which would surely have a heavy impact on our economy as well. Keep in mind that economic security is the top most issue now in the world front.

The big question

In light of all this my question again is, why should the MPS duplicate resources or waste money on buying fire arms or invest in specializing on areas that the state already have? Why can’t we just think of alternative strategies and optimize resources in hand.

What’s your stand or opinion on this issue, reader?

MPS’ Way Forward: The next step

My last post under the heading, “the next Commissioner of Police”, attracted many readers both within MPS and the public. As an officer committed for progression, the discussions that generated on this issue brought me contentment. Now that we have learned how people view the leadership change, we can leave the new government to decide on that and I intend to move forward to deliberate on the next step.

A New Police Reform Campaign …

If I am not misinformed, to a huge extent, the police reform initiative has come from within MPS since its establishment in 2004. I am not disregarding the focus on improving policing services in the 7th National Development Plan here. My argument is that this reform initiative can be best if it is one that is directed, processed and implemented by the Home Ministry rather than one coming out of MPS. What I am talking here about is the Police Reform initiative which I believe has to be reviewed by the new government. The President, Home Ministry and the Police Integrity Commission are those whom MPS report to or who have the oversight responsibility over MPS’ performance.

If the new government identifies that there are areas that need to undergo reform, I think it would be wise to launch a well crafted New Police Reform campaign. This campaign must involve all key stakeholders and must be led by the Home Ministry. One way to do is to have a person with a relevant background who holds a senior position, perhaps a deputy minister from the Home Ministry, to head a “Police Reform Committee”. This committee can comprise of representative(s) from the Police Integrity Commission, MPS, the relevant parliamentary committee, the Home Ministry and other concerned authorities. Based on the areas identified by the government, the intent of this campaign/committee would be to draw up strategies and action plans, coordinate and oversee the implementation of reform activities.

I have few areas in my sight that MPS need to improve on which I choose not to discuss here for obvious reasons but I will do so on an appropriate platform, when time comes. Therefore, I invite readers to share their concerns, ideas or views on the issue on hand.

You, as a MPS officer or a member of the public, what do you want from MPS in the future? This can be with regards to how MPS can improve its services or the public expectations towards MPS.