Through the social contract, people have given up their duties and interests to the State for protection of their common values, the enforcement of their fundamental rights and freedoms as well as the creation of safer environments, suitable for human inhabitation.
As such, the State, through its organs, all natural persons and juristic persons, including but not limited to local authorities, have an admirable duty to put in place mechanisms that will ensure the recognition, preservation and enforcement of the social contract.
Therefore, it is through the realisation of the terms of the social contract that both the Namibian Police Force (Nampol) and the Windhoek Municipal Police Service (City Police) were established and continue to exist.
Nampol is the country’s national police agency that is established in terms of article 118 of the Namibian Constitution and further given statutory recognition by section 2 of the Police Act, Act 19 of 1990 (Police Act), as amended. It is an agency that is tasked with the primary mandates of maintaining the law and order, preserving the internal security of the Republic of Namibia, preventing crimes, protecting life and property, and investigating offences and alleged offences as section 13 of the Police Act provides for.
Being a national police institution, it is expected that Nampol serves in all corners of the Republic of Namibia in the interest of all inhabitants, with no fear nor favour.
On the other hand, City Police is a municipal police service agency, which belongs to the City of Windhoek, and all the inhabitants of the capital city of the Republic of Namibia. As a municipal police service, City Police is given original statutory recognition in terms of section 43C of the Police Act.
In line with section 43C (2), it was established in terms of regulation 2 of the Windhoek Municipal Police Service Regulations as published under the Government Gazette No. 296 of 2004, as repealed by the Municipality of Windhoek: Windhoek Municipal Police Service Regulations – as published under the Government Gazette No. 32 of 2013 (WMPS 2013 Regulations).
Some of the organisational mandates include but not limited to the enforcement of municipal by-laws, the enforcement of traffic regulations and the prevention of crime within the municipal district of Windhoek.
United we stand
From the establishment of City Police, it is notable that the legislators intended to create synergies between the two law enforcement institutions. Common is that City Police was established for the ultimate purpose of complementing Nampol in the fight against crime and the enforcement of the social contract within the municipal district of Windhoek.
For that, the daily administrative and operational activities of City Police are guided by the Municipal Police Service Regulations and the Memorandum of Understanding, which was signed between Nampol and the City of Windhoek in 2004.
The said memorandum of understanding came as a result of strategic negotiations between the management of the two entities, and it serves as a document that limits the powers of City Police, such as granting them full policing power, except the power to investigate crimes or alleged offences.
In recognition of their synergies, the managements of the two policing entities have in the past maintained a good cooperation on the ground. This is witnessed in the sharing of resources between the two police entities, through an explicit interrelationship.
Exemplary, Regulation 65 of the WMPS Regulations provides for access to the facilities of Nampol by members of City Police. Amongst others, the said regulation provides that members of City Police may use facilities of Nampol for the detention of suspected criminals; the keeping of exhibits, found properties and other items confiscated pending investigations or a court case.
Also, the regulation gives members of City Police access to the registers and records of Nampol for the purpose of recording all such information that they will need to, in the tour of their duties. Also, in terms of section 43C (4) the inspector general, who is the head of Nampol, has a paramount duty to determine the minimum standards of training that the members of a municipal police service should undergo, including City Police.
These are some of the advantages of collaborated policing, which fosters resource sharing and strengthened relationships amongst both members of the management and ground officers.
Evidently, in the past, residents of Windhoek have gradually benefitted from such harmonised relationship. They were served with sufficient manpower, experiencing and witnessing a high volume of police officers on the ground.
Also, members of the two institutions benefitted from the sharing of skills and expertise, which were merely merged in a pool of collaborated policing. This was because Nampol had deployed some of their members to work with City Police officials on rotational basis. Without explicit statistics, one can profoundly state that the city was safer, because the esurance of safety was everybody’s business, knowing that everyone was accountable for any breach of the social contract.
Divided we fall
Recently, a new wave of divided policing emerged. At management level, one can see the division amongst the superiors of the two institutions. Just weeks ago, the media reported a tie of horns regarding the apparent advertisement of the position of head of City Police. In other incidences, the media has reported on the blame on Nampol regarding the investigation of cases by City Police.
At some stage, City Police has requested they be given powers to investigate their criminal cases. On the ground level, it appears as if the two policing institutions are policing in two different environments. When a public member calls one of the law enforcement institutions for service, they are referred to the other, with no justification whatsoever.
One would see members of any of the institutions driving past crime scenes with an instruction that victims should call and seek for assistance from the other institution. Members of the two institutions no longer take part in collaborated operations. It is now a determination of who has the best resources, who has the best approaches and who gets paid high than who.
Although City Police members still have access to the facilities of Nampol, the relationship is stranded, with each institutions having bureaucratic protocols that delay the process of policing and service delivery.
The results of broken collaboration is quite evident on the ground, where members of the community feel unsafe, due to increased crime rate within the capital city of Namibia.
It is true that when we are divided, we are most likely to fall, but when we are united, we shall stand and achieve our common goals. As such, there is a need for City Police and Nampol to mend their relationship and serve a common purpose. This can be done through proactive approaches of them actively planning for open resource and information sharing, establishing joint protocols and lines of open communication, and further establishing harmonised crime prevention tactics that intend to meet the agreement set in the social contract.
There is a common need to recreate effective police institutions, which, according to Walsh and Vito (2019), are policing entities that have the ability to initiate and reshape their operational service delivery in a variety of ways that allows them to effectively fulfil their public safety mission and prevent crime while increasing their value and legitimacy in the eyes of the community they serve.
Collectively, they should initiate units that will be tasked with acquiring, analysing and transferring and using information about their environment to structure their operational responses under one umbrella.
The organisational leadership and management should develop the capacity for their respective organisations to interact, understand and respond to the needs of their external environment with the internal resources and capabilities of their organisations.
Mending strategies, such as Community Oriented Policing and Problem-Solving, which City Police adopted, with the Intelligence-led policing and other tactical operations of Nampol that are informed by the analysation of crime, would yield successful results and create a safer Windhoek again.
The existence of City Police should encourage other local authorities to establish their municipal police services.
This is only possible if they see effective and efficient policing service delivery in Windhoek, which is gradually possible through the synchronisation of synergies of City Police and Nampol.
Above all, it is true that when the elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers, thus let us all get back to the drawing board and protect and serve the grass field.