Un-Meritocratic Police

I have a friend who wants to join the police. He is about 22 and holds a high office in the student council of a local university. He is good in sports and has great leadership qualities. More importantly for him, he has a degree and that is something you definitely need if you, like him, are going to apply for the post of ASP. Assistant Superintendent of Police. He’ll have a 50k plus salary, house and car with driver and other significant perks that come with the job. Not bad.

But you might say hold on, can a twenty two year old actually aspire to such a high post in law enforcement fresh out of university? Apparently yes. You need no on the job experience or previous training. Any fresh faced graduate with a 34 inch chest and above average in height can make it in, theoretically. What happens to the police force here? Incentive structures get skewed. You’re average ralahami will not be inclined to stop taking bribes and clean up his act because he basically has nothing to look forward to, the maximum the majority of them can expect to rise up to will probably be the rank of sergeant.

OK, say the system works. Maybe the police need to make sure that their top echelons are qualified and refined. Intelligence and leadership skills guaranteed from a young age so that they can be groomed early to provide a refreshing effect. But selections here are again not based on merit but on political favor. My friend for instance considers his number one asset to be his political connections. All of the rest are basically secondary. Only around twenty to thirty get picked every three years, so you can imagine the level of wrangling involved. The politicians pick the cops, no going around that one.

  1. Chavie said:


    Thing about the police force is that it’s rotten to the core. Apparently when a newbie joins the traffic police, they’re required to bring in a certain amount of fines per day, or else. The whole institution needs a good scrubbing.

    • Whacko said:

      ah yeah, I’ve heard of the fines thing. do bribes happen in the traffic police that much anymore though? i’ve a vague feeling that its reduced

  2. indi said:

    Isn’t it good that the police can attract people like your friend? In this case he is actually being judged by merit, rather than experience.

    Honestly, I think the state sector should offer higher salaries and try to apply more of the best and brightest, and young, to refresh a badly loading system.

    • Whacko said:

      Yeah definitely. Accepting for a moment that recruiting people like that is a good thing, the problem still is the political involvement. Politicians invariably appoint someone very close to them for the role. ensuring that the new ASP is in their pocket. Its pretty easy to rise up from there as well comparatively. So soon you have a whole top rung of policemen who are indebted to politicians

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