A nation needs democratic policing and the “rule of law.” Before I can expand on this, it needs to be explained briefly about the relationship between democratic policing and the rule of law. A lot of countries we call democracies, in fact are not democracies. First example is the United States. The U.S. is a constitutional republic – which in fact is based on “rule of law.” The constitution is the law of the land and it is not just popular vote that determines law(s) but the constitution itself.
Democratic policing is based on the basic principle to protect and serve the citizens. If there is any concept about democratic policing you need to get – that is it. Now to protect and serve must be done in the framework of the law. The law of the nation is what is of utmost importance to the police. After that is considered, then things like accepted international standards can be considered. What exactly is an accepted international standard? On December 10, 1948 the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Some of these rights include:
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.
No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.
No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law.
All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.
Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.
These can be found in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the UN.
Besides operating under the rule of the nation’s law(s), all police policies should be understandable and clear, precise, and available to the public. There are a lot of police from countries that are not used to transparency that this is where they have the biggest problem. They are so accustomed to back door deals and meetings behind closed doors that affect the police and police officers that operating with a sense of transparency is totally foreign to them. Personally, it is this part of democratic policing that is the hardest to get international police from countries that do not practice democratic policing to understand and teach this basic concept.
Police policies should be clear and concise. This is important for two reasons. First and foremost, the officer needs to understand the policies. These policies are threefold:
To protect the citizens
For Police to understand proper procedures
To protect the police officers themselves.
If the officer cannot understand the policies then these policies are useless. Also, the citizens have a right to know about police policies and under what guidelines do they work. They will have a better understanding of why officers act in the manner in which they carry out their duties. Whenever the citizens have access to this information they feel more at ease understanding the role and duties of the police. Also this can act as an oversight itself, if the citizens can understand the policies; they can make suggestions as to how police can be more responsive to them.