Home » Cooperation rather than confusion- need for new approach of enforcement

Cooperation rather than confusion- need for new approach of enforcement

by Jeet Akoijam
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The nation, as is in most places of the world, is under lockdown as part of the effort to combat the spread and transmission of Covid-19 which have hitherto managed to infect more than 23,000 people in the country , and still counting. Public curfew has been imposed and restrictions on travel and public gatherings are in place. State police and security forces are working overtime to enforce the government directives, while doctors and other healthcare professionals as well as volunteers are at the frontline against this insidious threat, performing beyond their call of duty and even risking their lives in the effort to contain and control the deathly march.
All these are measures and efforts to try and mitigate the damage inflicted by the deadly virus on the public. And while the state has been declared Covid-19 free after the two infected patients were tested negative following treatment, the public has yet to realize the potential threat of an outbreak in this tiny state. A sense of desperation and inability to grasp the importance and the implications of the present situation is still very pronounced. What has added to the confusion is the contrasting message of the state government in allowing retailers of ‘essential’ commodities to open shop for a limited period while imposing fine on the public for disobeying the lockdown. Evidently, the present crisis will persist for a few more months, if not years, and there is a pressing need to formulate and implement a systematic and pragmatic protocol for social behavior and interaction.
The exasperated expressions of the chief minister and the security personnel are understandable, and until the public comes to its collective sense, no amount of punitive action will bring in the desired result. Perhaps a change in the approach of community policing can be experimented, such as creating community immersion through a variety of ideas including reintroducing or elevating earlier community policing models. Forming community partnerships and coalitions with community leaders can assist in building relationships where tension might be forming.  Involvement in community programs and neighborhood projects can bring the citizens together with police to create a conversation to build unity. Security personnel can become more cognizant of background differences and cultural sensitivity. Persons may become culturally encapsulated with no intention of bias, but it comes from being so ingrained in one’s own norms and erudition.  It is important for peace officers to be sensitive to the factors in environment and cultural differences when communicating and interacting.  Using more transactional model communication and active listening can improve cordiality. Police officers often engage in linear communication due to the nature of their work by giving orders or commands. This model of interpersonal communication is effective in dynamic situations or circumstances where officers need to gain compliance immediately.
Communication from an officer is frequently used to steer someone in a certain direction which makes it very linear, often eliminating other factors which make interactions more transactional or two-way. Citizens want to be heard and they want to trust the message. Therefore, when officers use active listening and allow feedback to go back and forth in open channels, their perception and contact experience leans more positive than negative. Rapport building is part of this process as well and comes with opening up communication into a more transactional model.
The present source of the threat is one which does not recognize or regard politics, caste, creed, religion or faith. Cooperation and not conflict is our only hope of surviving this pandemic, and trust, respect and discipline are our greatest weapons.

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Imphal Times is a daily English newspaper published in Imphal and is registered with Registrar of the Newspapers for India with Regd. No MANENG/2013/51092


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