Ask just about anybody about the role police are expected to play, and the answer will be likely be this by a typical college student: maintain law and order in society and, by extension, serve as a source of moral strength, confidence and happiness to all individuals seeking to lead a trouble-free life.
Carrying the debate further, one would be as right saying the deployment of police personnel is meant to prevent crime or, after lawless acts are committed, ensuring the presumed culprits are brought to book so that no innocent person feels insecure or at the mercy of murderers, robbers and other criminal elements.
It is widely acknowledged that, unless society has in place the restraining influence of powerful legally recognised agencies, organisations or institutions such as police, crime will reign and life will be reduced to a struggle in which only the mighty survive – by committing crimes such as theft, mugging and robbery with impunity.
Yet, it does not always take a felony to make life unbearable for the weak and innocent; rather, even much lesser offences such as where operators of public transport hike fares or stage a go-slow over fuel prices or where irate college students block an expressway to protest late payment of loan funds can be hugely frustrating and costly in terms of time wasted, etc.
Any development that reduces life to intermittent, long-running or endless anxiety, uncertainty, panic or insecurity is an anomaly and ought to be viewed as unacceptable in civilised society.
This is precisely why we feel compelled to call on our police to take the concept of community policing a bit more seriously if they are really to woo the larger citizenry into both subscribing and contributing to it more noticeably.
Like all other public servants, and indeed everyone else, police can only hope to win sustainable levels of support and confidence from the rest of society by showing that they are up to speed as far as their commitment to their duties and responsibilities is concerned. And this can only be demonstrated through the swiftness and efficiency with which they respond when duty calls.
In recent days, for instance, there have been complaints from members of the public that some providers of vital services such as urban and upcountry passenger transport have decided to act and behave as if Tanzania has no laws or as if they are above the law.
Evidence of this abounds, and one does not have to move under cover of darkness to find it: daladala drivers blatantly flouting laid-down rules and regulations by hiking fares whenever they feel like doing so, refuelling their buses without caring to ensure that there isn’t a single passenger on board, ignoring officially sanctioned routes, etc.
Surprise, surprise, some of the relevant authorities dare swear that such information is breaking new to them! One wonders: on what planet are these officials living?
Our modest request to Traffic Commander Mohamed Mpinga and his subordinate as well as all other relevant authorities is that all this mess is happening in broad daylight – so let them move in and end the rot NOW.