Tuesday, 7 July 2020

Book Review: Review Of Critical Thinking And Policing


Title: Critical Thinking and Policing by Mathias Okoi-Uyouyo & Abdul M. Suleiman.

Publisher: Bookman Publishers.

Year of Publication: 2020.

Number of Pages: 259.

Reviewer:  Dr. Otive Igbuzor (E-mail: otiveigbuzor@yahoo.co.uk; Website: www.otiveigbuzor.com)


Introduction:
It is well recognised all over the world that peace and security of life and property are the primary conditions for progress and development of any society. There is a consensus among scholars that there is a clear linkage between failures in governance, democratization and sustainable development on the one hand and insecurity and violent conflict on the other hand. The principal agency charged with the responsibility of internal peace and security of nations all over the world is the police. Meanwhile, Policing across the world is facing huge challenges as a result of many factors including changing dynamics of crime, advances in forensic science, globalisation, Information Communication Technology (ICT), access to information by citizens and increasing discontent from below as a result of elite capture of power and increasing manipulation of the police for the preservation of the status quo and defence of the privileges of the rich and powerful.  The challenge is so huge that in the United States of America, arguably the oldest and largest liberal democracy in the world is facing calls for abrogation, disbandment and “defunding” of the police. We have argued elsewhere that the challenges of policing in Nigeria  include the problems of funding, increasing crime wave, poor training, corruption within and outside the police, lack of involvement of citizens in policing, low usage of forensic science, poor public image, lack of inter-service and agency co-operation and poor conditions of service and welfare of police officers.
The fundamental duty of the Police Officer is to serve mankind; safeguard lives and property; protect the innocent against deception, the weak against oppression or intimidation, the peaceful against violence and disorder and protect the constitutional rights of all people to liberty, equality and justice. It is against this background that this book on Critical Thinking and Policing is very timely. As the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mohammed A. Adamu noted in introduction to the book, policing across the world must of necessity evolve in line with dynamics of crime as crime governance in the 21st century has gone beyond the hue and cries, application of brute force, and archaic approaches. Indeed, policing in today’s world is more complex demanding the usage of strategic police management tools requiring every police officer to acquire, develop and apply the power of critical thinking to all police challenges that they routinely confront in the performance of their functions. (page x).

This review will follow the normal pattern of academic review and will be divided into five parts. The first part introduces the review and underscores the necessity of critical thinking to policing. The second part describes the content of the book while the third part highlights the contribution of the book to knowledge. The fourth part is a critical review of the book while the fifth and final part is the conclusion of the review.

Content Of The Book:
The book Critical Thinking and Policing “engages in a critical discourse on how to improve and cultivate critical thinking capabilities, the importance of inclusion and usage of critical thinking in police training, application of critical thinking to criminal investigation; the pivotal role of critical thinking in intelligence analysis; and critical thinking in aid of police operations and decision making in policing activities.” (page xi). The 259 paged book is divided into six chapters and four appendices. Chapter one titled the Concept of Critical Thinking and Policing  examines the concept of critical thinking, policing, history and duties of the Nigeria Police Force. The authors point out that “a person who thinks critically can ask appropriate questions, gather relevant information, efficiently and creatively sort through this information, reason logically from this information, and come to reliable and trustworthy conclusions about the world that enabled one to live and act successfully in it.” (page 5). According to the authors, “critical thinking is the general term given to a wide range of cognitive skills and intellectual dispositions needed to effectively identify, analyse, and evaluate truth and claims; to discover and overcome personal preconceptions and biases; to formulate and present convincing reasons in support of conclusions, and to make reasonable, intelligent decisions about what to believe and what to do.” (page 7). Chapter two deals with how to improve critical thinking. It points out that becoming a skilled thinker requires practice and display of characteristics of critical thinkers such as observation, curiosity, objectivity, introspection, analytical thinking, identifying biases, determining relevance, inference, compassion and empathy, humility, willingness to challenge the status quo and  open-mindedness. It also addressed the issues of common thinking errors, creative thinking, effective communicators, active listeners, uncritical thinker and how to improve on critical thinking.  Chapter three underscores the importance of critical thinking and advocates for the inclusion of learning critical thinking skills and disposition in the curriculum of police officers’ training. Chapter four focuses on application of critical thinking to investigation. It argues that investigation is a thinking process demanding investigative mind-set and utilisation of several investigative tools. Chapter five titled Critical Thinking and Intelligence Analysis highlights the benefits of critical thinking in intelligence analysis whether strategic intelligence or operational intelligence. There is a special focus on intelligence-led community policing which the authors describe as smart policing. (page 97). Chapter six which is the last chapter discusses Critical Thinking, Police Operations and Decision Making. The authors define police operations as duties, obligations, and actions law enforcement officials carry out in the field. (Page 98-99). They contend that police operations require planning, direction, co-ordination, monitoring, inspection, policy formulation and review, and interaction, involving processes such as briefing, debriefing, adhering to operational policy and documentation. They argue that critical thinking improves decision making abilities by raising patterns of decision making to the level of mindful and deliberate choice. (page 122). Appendix I is glossary of critical thinking. Appendix II is code of conduct for law enforcement officials. Appendix III is criminal information and intelligence guidelines and appendix IV is making recommendations on intelligence.

contribution To Knowledge:
This book has made significant contribution to the knowledge and literature on police issues. There is a lot of literature on police issues especially on history of the police, police accountability, police duties and corruption but very scanty literature on issues that can improve the performance of the police. Secondly, the book addresses issues of global concern using global perspectives without forgetting the Nigerian policing environment making the conclusions context specific. In addition, the book covers the main areas of police duties. As the Chairman of the Police Service Commission (PSC), Musliliu A. K. Smith IGP (Rtd) noted in the foreword, the book “gives police officers the opportunity to learn virtually all that they need to know to be effective in policing.” (page viii)

Review Of The Book:
As noted above, the book has made a major contribution to knowledge especially in terms of the use of critical thinking in policing. However, there are factors and environment conducive for critical thinking  that will lead to effective policing which is not part of the subject of the book. If there are inadequate funds for vehicles, materials, intelligence gathering and equipment, critical thinking will not be effective. If the persons recruited into the force are not trainable, critical thinking will be non-existent. In the face of corruption, critical thinking flies through the window. No amount of critical thinking will replace hard evidence that can only be provided by forensic science. Critical thinking will be problematique with hungry police officers.

The publication  was professionally done. The packaging is solid and excellent. The layout is beautiful, and the print is very reader friendly.

Conclusion:
Effective policing is critical for the peace and security of life and property of any country. Critical thinking will contribute to effective policing. This book on Critical Thinking and Policing by Mathias Okoi-Uyouyo and Abdul M. Sulaiman is a beautiful addition to the literature on Policing. I strongly recommend the book to Police Training Institutions, Police Officers, Scholars, bureaucrats, political leaders, civil society organisations and indeed anyone interested in effective policing across the world.

Thank you for your attention.

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