Police here and there

Talal Al-Ghannam

Good morning my dear and honorable brothers and sisters, and I wish you all the best of health. In this article, I would like to shed some light on the role of policemen and traffic departments in Kuwait compared with the United States. We all know that policemen are there to protect, safeguard and work on imposing law on all without discrimination.

However, we all notice some fallbacks and negligence committed by some policemen here in Kuwait pertinent to respect of others, especially expatriates, and law enforcement on all without being influenced by wasta (connection) which is tearing the society apart.

When an expatriate drives his or her car on roads in areas mostly populated by Kuwaitis, and particularly the helpless taxi drivers, some of them get unwanted harassment even when they abide by the law completely.

When an expatriate gets pulled over on the side of the road and is approached by traffic policemen, some officers in this case tend to find fault with that poor person’s car and try to search for the slightest car defect if he could not detect any violation in terms of speed limit, not fastening the seat belt or durability of the vehicle.

When pulling an expatriate over, many policemen tend to be harsh, disrespectful and never want to listen to the other side’s plea. At least the ‘violator’ must know his or her violation before signing the citation, but in this case, no mercy is given, and he or she must accept it without hesitation. In the United States, when any person is pulled over for whatever violation, he or she would be approached by the traffic policeman who starts the conversation with a smile and a greeting, followed by an explanation of the violation committed and an advice for non-repetition.

When I was there, I had never encountered any situation where my car’s registration got revoked or my driver’s license got taken away for a very simple citation. In Kuwait, you see many policemen sitting in the early hours of the day inside their cars that are parked under bridges supposedly to monitor the flow of traffic and pursuit those reckless drivers.

However, the majority of them would sit in their air-conditioned patrol cars playing with their smartphones and not even looking at the road or those who are driving maniacally.

Last year, I was driving one day at around 6:30 am going to work and I saw a minivan zigzagging between lanes at high speed. I quickly stopped my car near a patrol vehicle that was parked under a bridge and knocked on the window to wake the policeman up as he was asleep, and told him to chase that speeding van. He got up, wiped his eyes, started the siren and chased the wrong car. I am not saying this to belittle the policemen’s courage and accomplishments, but I am saying this to awaken the minds of the authorities that there are some of their workers who do not appreciate the responsibilities being shouldered on them, and need to be punished.

In Kuwait, when a reckless driver gets chased by police, he can easily run away from their sight because some of the policemen here do not have the adequate capacity to apprehend violators. For example, helicopters that monitor the flow of traffic and continuously keep spotting the violators or reckless drivers till they are apprehended. I watched a police chase on YouTube and became amazed by the sophisticated equipment used by the US police to arrest and pursuit violators. Let us dream that one day the Kuwaiti police force would be as efficient and strong as that of the US.

Till the next article insha Allah

By Talal Al-Ghannam
local@kuwaittimes.net

This article was published on 16/07/2017