The Royal Malaysia Police/Polis Diraja Malaysia (PDRM) has rolled out a number of measures as part of its modern policing initiative to build and strengthen its relationship with the community. Programmes such as High Profile Policing, OmniPresence, Stop & Talk, Meet & Greet, and Community Policing, are testaments to these efforts. Despite that, the police officers were still predominantly viewed as “walking suits” that the community was largely skeptical and distrustful of.
Even prior to conducting empathy fieldwork, the PDRM design team understood that part of the problem stemmed from officers being stationed in communities that were not where they originate. This somewhat led to a mutually weakened sense of responsibility between community and police officer in charge.
By engaging people through conversation, they uncovered underlying reasons that helped them understand their user sentiments better. One user they spoke to in particular, revealed that her interactions with corrupt officers had ruined her trust in the police force and saw no real honour in the profession, any longer.
Talking to this user helped them realise that what was missing from all their previous solutions was the element of personal touch and connection with the person behind the uniform. They also realised a key insight that once a relationship is built, the sense of responsibility and trust thereon is increased.
The design team set to introduce a “Talk to Us” programme that encourages dialogue between the very officers meant to protect a given community and the community members themselves.
The team initially tested the prototyped version of the “Talk to Us” programme in the Taman Tun Dr. Ismail (TTDI) area where PDRM officers interacted with the community members over a casual coffee session in a local coffee shop. It was intended to make police officers more approachable.
The prototype received great reception and provided an avenue for the community to know their local police offers on a personal level.
Following the success of the prototype, “Talk to Us” was officially initiated in Wangsa Maju and Kampung Datuk Keramat. This is done in a rotational style where different officers will take on different “Talk to Us” shifts, which are made known publicly via the PDRM Facebook Group (Polis KL) and banners around the neighbourhood.
Nearly 20 months since the launch of PDRM’s modern policing initiative, in June 2016, TTDI in particular noted a 40% decrease in crime rates as well as improved overall public perception of crime in the area - from 59% to 18% in 2017. (Source: The Star Online, 25 Feb 2018).
The team ultimately learnt that it was really about getting to know the people they were protecting and for the community to know the people protecting them. Jenny Loo, the event organiser for a Chinese New Year meet and greet event in TTDI echoed the congenial ties between the community and police by saying that “the relationship between the people and the police has improved significantly” (Source: The Star Online, 25 Feb 2018).