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A new “Thin Blue Line” – The new Ukrainian police

July 3, 2015

Yesterday saw the Rada pass a new “Police Law” which amongst other things granted a statutory right to exist for the new (metropolitan) “Police” that will now take to the streets of Kyiv after months of training.

They will soon appear in Lviv, Odessa, Kharkiv and other metropolitan areas with one million or more inhabitants.

All newly minted officers are volunteers for the positions and are not arriving amongst the ranks via nepotism.  They will be paid more than the other militsia – at least as far as commensurate with service over other existing police services.

new police

Bravo!  A step in the right direction.

The proof of the pudding however, is always in the eating.

Their creation and granting of a statutory right to exist does not yet equal effective implementation, nor does it measure their success or failure.

Time, as it always does, will tell.

His Excellency, Roman Waschuk, Canadian Ambassador to Ukraine has tweeted that they have already been implemented.

Alas, your author disagrees – they have been created.  At best it can be claimed a decision to create them has been implemented.  Effective implementation of a genuine, a-political, impartial, rule of law entity, has yet to occur.

Within you author’s distant past, your author wrote, created, implemented and monitored/measured “local area policing” plans – or LAPs as they were known within the service.  Upon “home turf” this prose is crafted.

Creation is not implementation.  In short, I know of what I write in the field of policing, policing management, and policing the police.

Effective implementation is measured.  The question is against what, or many whats, that implementation is to be measured against, and over what time span.  It requires benchmarking against predefined targets – but not all targets are necessarily easy to measure with policing and police interaction within society or the structures of State.

Effective policing first and foremost occurs with the overwhelming consent of the public.

In Ukraine, a new and currently untainted police service should receive that overwhelming consent when held up against a corrupt and severely politically influenced/interfered with police service.  Only time will tell if that public consent remains overwhelming supportive, or whether the new thin blue line will soon manage to get tarred with the same corrupt and/or politically controlled brush through its own actions/inactions.

To retain that overwhelming consent requires numerous traits to remain consistent from inception.

There will initially be an esprit de corps.  That esprit de corps must become self-reinforcing, but also have humility in the face of the public, and a robust spine before the elite individuals that will challenge officers when they (or their family/friends) are caught doing wrong.  It must self-police itself with regard to internal corruption and unlawfulness.  There has to be the moral fibre in each and every officer to turn in, or council, a colleague with the same vigour and equality that they would employ upholding the law elsewhere.

The new thin blue line must also have the group ethic to withstand the inevitable attempts to subjugate it to political expediency.  Its loyalty is not to the President, nor the Cabinet of Ministers, nor the Interior Minister – for they will come and go during a 30 year (or so) career.

courage

The new thin blue line has a loyalty to the public from whence they came, and to whom they serve.  They have a loyalty to the rule of law, whilst holding a certain amount of personal discretion when enforcing it – or not.

Personal discretion as afforded by the law to police officers in most nations, is often influenced by “canteen culture” as to what offenders are sent on their way home for doing – or locked up.  Canteen culture often has a large part to play in setting those parameters and thus the actions deemed acceptable – or not – and the limitations of personal discretion.

Again, esprit de corps will be required to keep the canteen culture, service ethics (and reinforce personal morality) to a level that retains the overwhelming support of the public.

Historically in Ukraine, any officer that may get sacked for having the moral fortitude to refuse to “forget something happened” in order not to embarrass the elites (or their family/friends).  The threat of getting an officer sacked is often the first stick wielded by the powerful/connected.  Going above an officer’s head within the organisation and squashing incidents is also commonplace.

Will the new service have the ethical fortitude to stand its ground before those that have created it and refuse to bow before political expediency or interference?

There are also issues of implementation effectiveness and measurement that are either easy, or close to impossible, to measure.  Policing is not all about how much revenue is generated through fines, the number of arrests made (convictions are a matter for the courts, not the police), or incidents recorded and how they were dealt with by way of discretionary powers with no further action.

Part of policing is about being seen – and how the police are perceived when they are seen.

It is impossible to measure how many crimes are not committed, or incidents that would normally arouse a police response prevented, by the police seemingly wandering around aimlessly yet acting as a visible deterrent.  It is incredibly difficult to measure “prevention” – which is a major part of policing.  It is far easier to measure incidents, for they have obviously occurred.  (It is then, of course, possible to massage those statistics to fit certain benchmarks which is another ethical issue amongst policing management.)

There is  no intention to overly lecture in this post, or go into the depths of policing or its implementation – however it is suffice to say that the welcome creation that has occurred today is not yet effective implementation when it comes to policing and that is what will count.

Effective implementation – or not – is some way from being measured by the service itself, and given the usual societal lag, even further along the time-line when being measured by the public.

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