Changes to PDRM, one step at a time

By walking the talk, the new Bukit Aman Management director is proving to be a visionary leader.

CHANGE must start from yourself – that is a creed that Comm Datuk Seri Zulkifli Abdullah holds strongly to.

by natasha joibi

Only a few months into his tenure as Bukit Aman Management director, Comm Zulkifli has already brought in many changes to the department, including introducing a programme to help overweight and obese police officers improve their health and fitness. But he is not one to be contented with standing idly by as his subordinates take part in the Trim N Fit programme, Comm Zulkifli has also been following a strict diet and exercise regimen for six months.

By walking the talk, Comm Zulkifli is proving to be the change-maker that the police force needed. Speaking to Sunday Star in conjunction with PDRM’s 209th anniversary, he shares some insight into projects that will be carried out this year to improve the police force.

Q:What does Police Day mean to you?

This year we celebrated our 209th Police Day. The traditional celebration was done at Pulapol – our training division – and comprised a parade. Our Prime Minister attended the event together with the Deputy Prime Minister. Over and above, the PM launched a 2.0 blueprint for our Green Project which will span from 2016 to 2020. We’ve been quite successful two years after the project was launched in 2014. We scored 85% and were awarded a four-star rating. We received a few awards in Malaysia and internationally. The initiative is supposed to receive recognition from an international body in April.

Back to Police Day – our emphasis is on service delivery. Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar stated that the three areas he wants us to concentrate on are fighting and combating crime, integrity and service delivery. Our department takes service delivery at the lowest level and front lines seriously, to see how they can be improved. As Management Director, this is given the utmost priority. I’ve been going on the ground to check on the OCS (police station chiefs) and district police chiefs on what they have to do. We need to go back to basics. We need to see and assess whether the public, who are our clients, are happy with the service we are providing. If they’re not happy, which areas are they not happy with – is it the counter services? Investigation?

We want the police station chiefs and district police chiefs (OCPD) to take a serious look at what the shortcomings are and then address them. We believe if we can address that part, the negative perception on the police – and that we are not committed – can be greatly reduced.

Staying healthy: Comm Zulkifli working out in the Trim N Fit programme.

Staying healthy: Comm Zulkifli working out in the Trim N Fit programme.

> You’re known to be the brain behind going green. How is PDRM (the Royal Malaysia Police) going paperless?

It’s hard to go 100% paperless but we are trying. Communication between divisions, departments and districts are all done via e-mails. Due to this, the use of paper and printer ink has been greatly reduced. We also no longer hand out copies of meeting minutes to attendees. Instead, PowerPoint slides are used during meetings. Only one copy is printed out for record-keeping purposes. You have to instil these habits.

The police are very serious about going green and are holding on to the 3R programme – reuse, reduce, and recycle. We are not only reducing the use of paper, but also everything that is recyclable. To cut our electricity use, we have started using LED lightbulbs for new police buildings. Only contractors with four-star ratings on “going green” will be hired for new police buildings. By doing that, I think we are helping the Government to achieve its target of reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 40%.

> How much cost has PDRM saved by going green so far?

We started going green a few years ago. For example, we started a practice that requires all our men and women to switch off the juice if it’s not in use. We managed to shave RM20,000 off the monthly electricity bill for Tower One in Bukit Aman, which is quite significant. This is accomplished through simple measures like switching on the air-conditioning slightly later and switching it off earlier and using LED lights. There are certain times where the lifts won’t be heavily used.

There are simple measures that we can take that would produce results. Of course, we can’t change everything but the key is that we are trying. People say it’s quite expensive to go green. That used to be the case, but not any more. Now the cost of energy efficient LED lights and air-conditioning are getting cheaper. And even if it is expensive, you can save more in the long run, so it is a really good investment. We are working with some people in the technology sector to see what else we can do.

> What is the management department’s scope of work?

To make it clear, we look at all aspects of human resources. For recruitment – we will hold interviews and make sure that their qualifications are in order. The training institution Pulapol is under the purview of the management department. The training period is six months for constables and nine months for sergeants and inspectors. Once they are done with their training, we will send them on their postings as Investigating Officers (IO) and monitor their career. We want to match the candidates with the requirements of the departments they will be sent to. We can’t be taking in graduates who do not satisfy the requirements of the Special Branch unit or the Criminal Investigation Department (CID). We are trying to recruit better quality graduates to join the force.

> What do you mean by better quality graduates?

First-class graduates, Criminology graduates… Personally, I am looking forward to this year’s graduation ceremonies. We will go to universities to explain the career prospects in the police force to students. I myself will be going to one or two universities to explain to graduates and the would-be-graduates about the career prospects. Some of them may not want to join the police force because they don’t understand that we have a good career path.

In terms of promotion, what they may not know is that those who are willing to work hard and are committed will be deservingly rewarded.

If your goal is to be a millionaire, you should not join the police force. If you want a meaningful job that gives you satisfaction while also do good for the country and its people, the police force is a good place for you. Your pay, which will be reasonable, is above average and comes with allowances. In an effort to improve our force, it is important for us to get the right kind of people.

> Ever since you took helm of management, a lot of focus has been placed on health and fitness. You even started a six-month pilot programme called Trim N Fit. What made you decide to focus on the health and fitness of your officers? Policemen and policewomen enforce the law. To do that, whether you like it or not, you need some physical strength. You are not doing office work, you are supposed to be on the ground making arrests or chasing criminals, climbing fences and breaking doors. That needs some physical strength.

And, of course, people expect enforcement bodies to be strict and fit. That’s the expectation. If you are not fit or if you are obese or even underweight, people will start having perceptions – your mental faculty may be good but your physical being is not suitable to be in the police force. We are not discriminating against the unfit and obese, don’t get me wrong. You have options, you see.

You want to join the police, you must not only be fit when you join. You must be fit throughout your career, only then can you be productive and take fewer medical leaves. That’s why we are emphasising physical fitness. We are really serious about this. We really hope that by the end of this year, most of our policemen and policewomen will practise healthy, balanced living by eating right and getting enough exercise. With that, you will become more proactive. You will be able to deliver more to the society.

That is why I started with my department first. We are grateful to be getting assistance from the Kuala Lumpur Health Department. Right now, we are seeing a lot of positive results. The final assessment of the participants’ health and nutritional status will be carried out in June; we will reveal our results then. If it’s a success, we are looking into implementing the programme nationwide.

> How’s your own progress in the programme?

It’s okay. I’ve lost almost 5kg. My fitness level is above 80, which is considered good. My body fat has also reduced quite a bit. I think by June, I should be able to achieve my target. The target is to reduce at least 10% of our body fat and weight. Some people are still sceptical whether we are serious about this. As the Management Director, I can assure you that we are.

> With this hot spell, will PDRM suspend outdoor training for recruits?

I won’t say that we will suspend outdoor training, but we may reduce it. At the same time, we will get advice from the Health Ministry. We are in constant contact with them. If they advise us not to train in the open, then we will improvise by having the training under the shade. The training will still continue.

> Has the ministry issued any warning on training under the hot sun?

None at the moment. We have advised our personnel to drink more water so that they don’t get dehydrated. I think the recent case in Segamat, Johor (where a trainee cop died of heatstroke), was a one-off incident as our trainees are the cream of the crop.

If trainees are experiencing any problems, such as fever, they have to inform the squad leader. If you are not well, you can be excused from training.

> Moving on to the Self-Monitoring Analytics Reporting Technology (SMART) lockups, how many do we have so far?

Besides the Jinjang detention centre, we have 57 SMART lockups nationwide. These 57 include all the big detention centres in Malaysia. We have installed CCTVs with video analytics capabilities. If you do something funny inside the lockup, it will trigger the alarm. Once the alarm is triggered, our personnel will be alerted and they will take action.

> Have there been any cases in which SMART had helped prevent a death in custody? Can you give some examples?

So far, there have not been any cases where a detainee died in custody in a SMART lockup. The most important thing is to prevent that from happening. Sometimes detainees get sick at night. For instance, if you are an addict, you might get sick and if you are not attended to, you can succumb to your sickness. The thing with custodial deaths is, once the media come into the picture, an incident can be easily sensationalised. People will start accusing police of brutality and things like that, which is not fair to us. That is why we came up with the SMART lockups, to make everybody happy and make sure that everything is under control.

> Is this part of PDRM’s initiatives to be transparent?

Correct. If you are still not happy, we can show you the video and say “Here, this was what really transpired in the lockups”. If some human rights bodies are still unhappy with our explanation, we don’t mind sharing the footage to silence allegations. It’s a win-win situation for all.

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