AKINTAYO Akintunde, a Nigerian who is a police officer with the Washington Police Department in the United States has advised the Federal Government to review the recruitment process into the Nigeria Police Force.
Akintunde emphasised that the recruitment process into the Nigeria Police Force should be ratified, more efficient, and career-driven unlike what the situation is at the moment.
Akintunde spoke Tuesday morning while featuring on Arise television. He was speaking on the recent #ENDSARS protest against police brutality in which Nigerian youths were seeking police reforms and the disbandment of the controversial Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigeria Police Force.
“In Nigeria, we need to start hiring people based on their careers. Now for me, I am a police officer because I love to be a police officer, I want to help people, I want to help my community, that is the main reason I joined and most of my colleagues when we get into the hiring process, they ask us why do you want to be a police officer. I don’t think that is what they ask the Nigeria Police officers, they just put people in the Police Academy in Nigeria,” he stated.
He added that “Even if state police are created,” recruiting should the main key, noting that recruits must be assessed based on their motives to join the police.
“You have to start asking these people why they want to join the police department. If you are joining because of the money or because you want to take bribes for somebody.”
Speaking on how police officers in the US carry out their duties, Akintunde said each officer works with a manual guiding their day-to-day affairs.
“Here in my department, they gave us a manual on the procedure to raid, what to do and what not to do on and off duty,” Akintunde said.
“Some might do something wrong and they don’t get caught but when you get caught, you are suspended. Sometimes you are suspended without pay and if the crime is really wrong, you get terminated.”
On the process of monitoring and holding police officers accountable for their actions, Akintunde said all officers in the US are being monitored by their superiors.
“Everybody is being monitored by somebody, you have sergeant monitoring the officer, lieutenant monitoring the sergeant, the captain monitoring the lieutenant,” he said.
“So there is kind of a managerial process that is going on and it is very effective, as a DC officer, I don’t have the right to go to Maryland and arrest someone because that is another jurisdiction.”
On the Prison break in Edo State and incarceration of awaiting trial suspects, Akintunde who had worked as a US Correctional officer said citizens of the country are not incarcerated when awaiting trial for committing petty crimes.
“In the American Correctional Service, if you are awaiting trial, they put you in jail and if your crime is not like a felony, they put you back on the street and then you await your trial before you get a date for trial in court,” he said.
“Putting people in jail for trial for long is not good at all because I went to Europe to conduct research on Criminal Justice Reform and I went to London Prison, I found out that London only had 698 persons in prison as of 2015 while the US has 1.2 million.”
“They usually put people in community service. We can even use the people who have committed petty crimes to clean up the street and save money instead of taking them to prison where they might meet bigger criminals to teach them to how to commit bigger crimes. They might turn to be a high-class criminal when they come out,” he added.
When asked to speak about the welfare of police officers in the US, he said the officers are paid wages rather than the salary that the Nigeria Police officers are paid.
“On Police welfare, the cost of living is compared to our salary because we have a union that fights for us, that compare our cost of living to our salary and we get paid every two weeks, unlike Nigeria where they pay them at the end of the month.”
He added that there is health insurance available to the officers in the US adding that there is a 25 years’ retirement plan for them.
“I recommend every officer in Nigeria to have health insurance. They have children and wives. If you don’t pay them the salary they are bound to take bribes.
“Their quality of life is the main thing. We do psychological tests every day, if you think there is something wrong, we have a psychologist that we can go to. They need to start encouraging people to join the police,” Akintunde said.
He noted that the Nigerian government should not replace the defunct SARS unit with the new SWAT stating that if there would be a SWAT team, it should not come as a replacement for SWAT.
Among the five demands of the ENDSARS protesters in Nigeria is the increase in the payment of the police officers in Nigeria.
The protesters demanded that the government should prioritise police welfare, get justice for the victim of police brutality, disband the SARS unit, among others.