The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) has begun deploying hi-tech policing equipment, including 24-hour live cameras across the capital, in order to enhance traffic policing and cut back on corruption and harassment of motorists.
Authorities are also in the process of buying new speed traps and breathalyser machines.
An electronic traffic management system (ETMS) — a computerised platform that is expected to result in the bulk of road traffic fines being paid electronically, including reducing direct interface between police officers and motorists — is currently being rolled out.
As part of extensive reforms being undertaken by newly appointed ZRP Commissioner-General Mr Godwin Matanga, the traffic department is set to undergo restructuring, with much of its duties currently under review.
While the department remains operational, much of its work has been provisionally dedicated to decongesting cities during traffic peak hours.
Also, some members of the force that had served the department for an inordinately long time, will be periodically transferred to other departments.
Police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba told The Sunday Mail last week that the police is embarking on a self-renewal process.
She said innovations being introduced by the force will help curb corruption.
“From the changes that include the reduction of roadblocks after so many complaints for the public, the Commissioner-General directed that roadblocks be reduced and synchronised and there be more focus on decongesting the city, as opposed to mounting roadblocks,” said Snr Ass Comm Charamba.
“At some places, we already have cameras in place; we are arresting people who are flouting road rules and regulations, and some have already been taken to court.
“We are still awaiting delivery of more cameras, but we have deployed some cameras at strategic places so that we don’t chase people around like we used to. But the challenge we have is that so many vehicles do not have number plates, we already have an operation targeting such vehicles.
“But we have put cameras at strategic points so that if a motorist goes through a red traffic light or flout road rules, we will follow up and you will be invited to the police, we will compile a docket and you will be taken to court.
“We are also introducing a new system to curb corruption. With the new Electronic Traffic Management System, there will be no way a police officer can change amounts charged for fines,” she said. Police commanders, she said, have been directed to heighten supervision of junior officers in order to ensure that they do not put the name of the force into disrepute.
“First of all, the Head of State (President Emmerson Mnangagwa) has made it clear that all Government employees are servants of the people.
“Having set the vision at the highest level, the swearing-in of the new Commissioner-General also brought in renewed leadership with a new vision, also to serve the people guided by our motto, ‘Pro Lege Pro Patria Pro Populo’, which means, ‘For the Law, For the Country and For the People’.
“So all commanders were told to revisit their way of doing business because it is no longer business as usual.
“Then we undertook the reorientation of all police officers through training, through refresher courses for all police officers, as well as training for elections, which is currently ongoing.
“We are doing the training in phases.”
The launch of the police patrol unit, she said, has increased police visibility and crime detection.
As part of the reforms, all members of the police force are undergoing retraining in customer care techniques and professional etiquette as part of efforts to reorient the police into a people’s force.
Investigating officers are also now obliged to give continuous feedback on ongoing investigations to victims of crime as a way of strengthening public confidence in the police.
Resultantly, the number of official complaints against police conduct filed by the public have gone down by half since the beginning of the year, compared to the same period last year.
Official figures from the police public relations department show that while in June last year, 102 official complaints were filed against the police, only 57 were filed last month.
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