By Omar Bah
The Gambia’s new Inspector General of Police, Landing Kinteh has spoken of his plans to embark on a massive reform of the police force to make it more effective.
“We have a lot of plans to improve the Gambia Police Force, and the number one plan we want to do is to have a strategic direction for the police force,” he told state TV recently.
“You may be surprised that the police force is currently making use of laws as old as fifty years, even before independence. We want to change our laws, over the years we haven’t been doing our activities based on policies that are based on IGP’s fulfilments; this is how things are supposed to be done,” he said.
“The police Act for example is as old as five decades, we want to change that”, he said.
IGP Kinteh further stressed that there were many plans and ideas over the past 22 years, but they all failed because there was no political will from the former government.
“I myself have been part of a Think Tank that was tasked with the responsibility of reforming the Gambia Police Force. We looked at various issues that are confronting the police force ranging from the terms of reference and among others, but they were never implemented, because one man gives the command then,” he said.
He said under his leadership there would be proper community policing to ensure that the public feels as part of the police, “we also want to change the perception of the police. We believe for one to be police officer in a proper democracy, you must have the trust and confidence of the people.”
“Policing is a very challenging job and for us in the third world can only bet on our people because they are more of our security than CCTV and all that you may expect, because if you have the people at your side you get intelligence for free,” he added.
Kinteh said over the years, the Gambia Police Force were set up against their own people that’s why there is a big gap between them and the community, “we want to bridge that gap so that there will be effective community policing; so that people can see themselves as their own security.”
“We will also change the perception about policing, because policing is not about brutal force it is about engagement and partnership with the community. So there is no reason for that antagonism, of course we have to do this with our international partners like the human rights commission and other UN partners,” he added.
He said given the fact that the police will have a big role to play in the country’s reconciliation, “restructuring the police sector is very paramount. We will also work on the laws regarding drinking and driving, this is because we believe there are no strict laws to ensure these issues are tackled,” he concluded.