From feared to embraced, Dubai Police officers' image has changed greatly, says security chief

Lt Gen Dhahi Khalfan tells police event that the stereotypes of the past - when he joined the force - are long gone

Dubai, March 12, 2018:Lt.General Dhahi Khalfan Tamim gestures during the Hemaya International Forum in Dubai. Satish Kumar for the National/ Story by Nawal Al Ramahi
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Dubai's most senior security official has urged police to ensure they are the friendly and smiling face of law enforcement at all times - and preserve their tough side for hardened criminals.

Lt General Dhahi Khalfan Tamim, Deputy Chairman of Dubai Police and head of General Security in Dubai, gave the speech to officers and officials as he reflected on how much law enforcement has changed over the years.

He was addressing an event on human rights and policing organised by the Ministry of Interior.

“Police units could be a blessing or a curse," he said of the Arab region broadly.

"Those countries that use police to twist the arms of its citizens arms will fail.

"This country’s police officers perform their duties for community members. Our ethos is to use police’s strength over criminals - not the community."

Lt Gen Khalfan said the image and stereotype of police has changed over the decades, from tough law enforcers, to the image they have today - guiding tourists, driving supercars and policing the streets.

“I remember back in the day when I wanted to join Dubai Police, my father told me that community looks 'differently' at the force. I told him saying that our duty is to change that stereotype and to contribute in making the force closer to the community, and known for serving the public,” he said.

“Everyone has the right to security. [One survey showed] a total of 98 per cent of UAE resident feel safe.

"We plan to work harder to achieve the highest levels of security, reaching up to 100 per cent."

He added: “Our country has been named among the happiest countries. All the police forces in the UAE perform as one team, especially when it comes to humanitarian causes."

The event was also given an insight into how prison inmates - include some serving life sentences - can be worked with to benefit the community and themselves.

For those not facing deportation, such as UAE nationals, there is a need to reform them and teach new skills, said Brig Ali Mohammed Al Shamali, director of the General Department of Correctional Institutions.

"We help inmates who learn any job during their prison time by providing them with an amount of money to start a small project when they are released," he said.

Mohammed Omar Al Majid, the owner of a manufacturing company, said that inmates have helped to build hundreds of off-road vehicles.

“A total of 500 vehicles have been built recently. We cooperated with punitive and correctional department and organised around five workshops for inmates to learn about building vehicles,” said Mr Al Majid.

“Dozens of inmates have helped in building quad-bikes."