Crime Watch: Get­ting to know your po­lice

The Manica Post - - Local News - Lux­son Chananda

AS WE con­tinue to dis­cover new ways of as­sist­ing the gen­eral pub­lic, we re­alise the im­por­tance of keep­ing you up­raised on some of the ob­vi­ous fea­tures of your po­lice ser­vice, but which fea­tures have re­mained a se­cret to many.

Rarely do peo­ple bother them­selves with the rank struc­ture and or­gan­i­sa­tional set up of the po­lice as it has never ap­peared use­ful to them.

On the con­trary, we stand to gain a lot from un­der­stand­ing the var­i­ous lev­els of author­ity within the ZRP and how as cit­i­zens we can iden­tify each of th­ese lev­els.

The po­lice rank struc­tures and their re­spec­tive scope of author­ity fa­cil­i­tate the op­er­a­tional per­for­mance of the po­lice ser­vice.

Very of­ten, we have grap­pled with sit­u­a­tions where the pub­lic comes fum­ing to the pub­lic re­la­tions of­fice at the pro­vin­cial head­quar­ters seek­ing re­course with po­lice com­mand over is­sues which could have been re­solved by the next per­son in the line of com­mand at op­er­a­tional level.

Some­times we, as pub­lic re­la­tions, have no one to blame be­sides our­selves as the po­lice-pub­lic in­ter­face be­cause break­ing ground for such an un­der­stand­ing to pre­vail is only pen-and-pa­per away, hence this writ­ing.

Let us first be­gin by recog­nis­ing that the Zim­babwe Repub­lic Po­lice com­prises the reg­u­lar force, whose rank struc­ture we will dis­cuss today, and the po­lice con­stab­u­lary, the lat­ter be­ing now a vol­un­tary branch whose ser­vices is pro­vided as and when re­quired.

The first cat­e­gory of po­lice of­fi­cers in the Zim­babwe Repub­lic Po­lice is made of what are com­monly re­ferred to as non-com­mis­sioned of­fi­cers who are of the rank of As­sis­tant In­spec­tor and be­low. Th­ese are con­sta­bles, sergeants, sergeant-ma­jors and as­sis­tant in­spec­tors. How then can we tell th­ese of­fi­cers apart?

The first en­try point in the reg­u­lar force is the Con­sta­ble who is usu­ally seen wear­ing shoul­der ti­tles bear­ing the let­ters Z.R.P. only with no other ac­com­pa­ny­ing sym­bols.

Th­ese can ei­ther be on ma­te­rial made of cloth(slip-ons) or metal(an­odized) de­pend­ing on the type man­ning our front­line of­fices i.e. re­cep­tions and charge of­fices.

It is also im­por­tant to note that dress codes com­monly worn by po­lice of­fi­cers we meet on day to day ba­sis do not sig­nify any rank of author­ity, but rather it is the shoul­der ti­tles that do so.

Con­sta­bles are the gen­eral op­er­a­tional staff that we see per­form­ing du­ties like at­tend­ing to and in­ves­ti­gat­ing re­ports of crimes committed. Th­ese of­fi­cers re­port to sergeants which is the rank next in our dis­cus­sion.

Sergeants are re­garded as first line man­agers. Th­ese mem­bers are noted by shoul­der ti­tles bear­ing 3 ‘V’ shaped sym­bols above the let­ters Z.R.P. The cloth slip-ons are worn on the shoul­der. The metal ti­tle which is worn to­gether with the an­odized Z.R.P. is worn on the right up­per arm.

Sergeants also per­form du­ties that are done by con­sta­bles, but are di­rectly re­spon­si­ble for their su­per­vi­sion in terms of duty and dis­ci­pline.

In most sta­tions they are given re­spon­si­bil­i­ties where they are in charge of each shift or team on duty.

A sergeant is the next of­fi­cer a per­son seek­ing clar­i­fi­ca­tion on any is­sue per­tain­ing to ser­vice sought or ren­dered one is ex­pected to ap­proach.

The rank of Sergeant Ma­jor comes after that of sergeant. Sergeant ma­jors are the cus­to­di­ans of dis­ci­pline and pre­sen­ta­tion of all mem­bers be­low their rank. They are seen wear­ing a clock/ watch like sym­bol bear­ing the Zim­babwe Bird on their left wrist and carry a stick (cane stick) in the right hand.

The rank of As­sis­tant In­spec­tor com­pletes the cat­e­gory for non-com­mis­sioned of­fi­cers. As­sis­tant In­spec­tors carry a star sym­bol above the let­ters Z.R.P. and th­ese are ei­ther on cloth or metal­lic gold.

As­sis­tant In­spec­tors in most sta­tions can be mem­bers re­spon­si­ble for ad­min­is­tra­tion, crime or op­er­a­tions. Th­ese are also mem­bers in charge po­lice posts and can also be found act­ing in po­si­tions of sta­tion Of­fi­cer-in-Charge when he is ab­sent from sta­tion for one rea­son or an­other.

Hav­ing out­lined how non-com­mis­sioned of­fi­cers can be iden­ti­fied, it is vi­tal for every per­son to al­ways de­velop a habit of get­ting to know the iden­tity and role of mem­bers of the po­lice in re­la­tion to their ranks and scope of author­ity.

The ma­jor­ity of the cases we spent time and money trav­el­ling to higher of­fi­cers seek­ing re­course on mat­ters of ser­vice de­liv­ery can ac­tu­ally be re­solved at much lower lev­els which is very con­ve­nient to all of us.

All we need to do is to get to know the next per­son in line and help could be on its way faster and eas­ier.

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