The police mobile app initiative

RECENTLY, the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) revealed its plan to launch a mobile application (app) to combat the rising wave of crime in the country. In a promotional video on its twitter handle, the force stated that the app, called police-VGS, would help citizens to report crimes like kidnapping, robbery, cultism, rape and domestic violence to the police very quickly. “Within five seconds of reporting, the appropriate government security or emergency agency would be alerted and help would be deployed immediately,” it said, indicating  that a citizen would only be required to “swipe” the police-VGS app on his or her mobile phone whenever a crime, fire, medical emergency or natural disaster occurs. There and then, “policemen would be alerted immediately and help would be sent your way promptly.” According to the force, the app would be made available on the mobile operating system iOS as well as Google playstore.

Although the announcement by the police has understandably not been received with applause, the initiative is no doubt a welcome development. The world over, policing is increasingly enhanced and facilitated by the adoption of state-of-the-art technology in order to respond adequately to the dynamics of a rapidly changing environment. By its latest announcement, the NPF has indicated a willingness to embrace technology as a pivot of its operations. This is cheering news because, truth be told, the dynamics of crime has changed in the country and the police need the latest available technology to enhance their operations. The development of a mobile app is apparently cost-effective and, if well managed, it can prove to be very efficient in combating the crimes that the force highlighted, and many more.

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However, once the location of crime is determined via the app in question, the police should be able to deploy drones to the area. The advantages of such a measure are manifold. The police would be saving the lives of its men men while cutting costs. If the project is well managed, the country might get to a stage whereby the recurring complaints of manpower shortage in the force would be entirely unnecessary: with proper deployment of technology, the force might discover that it needs more technology, not more men, to combat crime and track down criminals. Drones can be obtained from the United States, Russia and China.

As a matter of fact, the use of drones should be adopted by all the security agencies in the country, whether military or paramilitary. This apparently means that the government should take the issue of funding the security agencies much more seriously. This is, we believe, necessary to overcome the reign of impunity currently being perpetrated by bandits and terrorist herdsmen across the country. Such a reign of terror is impossible in civilised climes because of the available technology which leaves felons with no hiding place. Nigeria should aspire to such status.

Besides, it is imperative for all the security agencies to have research departments staffed with young, competent and skilful professionals like those found in the money deposit banks. While we ar

e not oblivious of the fact that research departments exist in the various agencies, we think that they lack the equipment and expertise necessary to deliver on their core mandates. This is why the departments must be re-tooled to meet the demands of a rapidly changing environment. They must be modernised in a very real sense. To say the least, the staff of these departments must be on top of their game and should collaborate, where necessary, with the academia to enhance their operations.

However, whatever the technology deployed, the police cannot go far with the entrenched indiscipline within its ranks. Time and again, the NPF has been criticised for its inefficiency in combating crime and poor attitude to the civilian populace. Policemen appear to be perpetually stuck in a pernicious mentality which treats members of the civil populace as lesser mortals and therefore not deserving of any form of respect. This attitude is responsible for the perennial frictions between the force and the public and must be stamped out if the change envisioned by the police leadership is to be achieved.

We welcome the NPF’s mobile app initiative and urge the police hierarchy to do everything within their power to ensure the achievement of the gains envisaged.