Police public relations officers must redouble efforts to get people to realise the dangers of carrying around large sums in cash, or keeping piles of money at home or business premises, since this is an open invitation to robbery, Police Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga said yesterday.
Addressing police spokespersons in Harare, Comm-Gen Matanga said the public relations department was a vital cog in the chain of crime management as it could give people the information they needed to insulate themselves from criminals.
He outlined the need for people to be told what they could do to prevent losses from robbery, to avoid drug pedlars destroying lives, and to end the growing tide of violent crime, in particular gender-based violence including rape and assault of children.
Road safety campaigns were needed, especially as Christmas approached, he said.
“It is saddening to note that during the period January to September 2022 reports of general crime increased from 283 973 to 301 719 when compared with the same period in 2021,” said Comm-Gen Matanga.
“Cases of armed robbery involving large sums of money are now a cause of concern. While arrests are being made, I challenge you as our public relations officers to redouble your efforts towards empowering society through awareness campaigns conscientising communities on the dangers of carrying or keeping large sums of money in unsecure places, among other crime fighting techniques.”
The Press and Public Relations section was also expected to be pivotal in the multi-stakeholder efforts to address the malady of drug and substance abuse affecting both the young and old in the country.
“This has become a huge problem which is having a debilitating impact on the future of our country as whole generations are being made redundant,” Comm-Gen Matanga.
“I enjoin you to work hard with relevant stakeholders in conducting awareness campaigns to address drug and substance abuse which has a catalytic effect on crime.
“I encourage you to join hands with other specialised sections such as the Victim Friendly Unit to ensure that attention is also given to other crimes of concern. We have been receiving disturbing cases of rape, domestic violence and child abuse which you must work towards helping society to eliminate.”
Comm-Gen Matanga said as the festive season beckoned, road safety campaigns should be prioritised.
“You need to do more campaigns with the view to tame the traffic chaos which is being caused by errant motorists who disregard road rules and regulations,” he said.
“In this regard, you need to engage and work with the Vehicle Inspection Department, Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe and other relevant stakeholders.”
The three-day workshop conducted by the press and public relations section would go a long way in mapping the operational trajectory for the section and ultimately contribute to organisational success since the section played an integral role in cultivating mutually beneficial relationships between the police and the public.
“It is for this reason that the section’s role of providing accurate information to the public cannot be overemphasised,” said Comm-Gen Matanga.
“As such, the decision to conduct this workshop at this time is most apt, particularly given the need to plan for the impending year 2023.
“As an organisation, our image should not continue to be despised by our clientele especially when we have a fully functional Press and Public Relations section. It is your role to assess public attitudes and maintain the mutual relations between the Zimbabwe Republic Police and the general public.”
Comm-Gen Matanga said as officers who worked with information, modern trends required them to harness technology in their public interactions.
“It is my considered view that police public relations liaison officers should be at the forefront of exploiting the power of social media as a tool for managing police information that is of public interest,” he said.
“I am reliably informed that this workshop is being attended by provincial community relations liaison officers drawn from all police provinces.
“This is a commendable approach that will ensure a well-coordinated management of police to public relations across the country.”
Comm-Gen Matanga was pleased to note that each year, the Press and Public Relations section carries out these intensive review workshops as a way to review the previous year’s activities while preparing its members for the year ahead.