Dubai traffic officers opt for friendly approach with offenders, as safety is top priority
DUBAI // Whenever they step out of their patrol car, Lt Suwari and Lt Al Bidwawi make a point of greeting traffic offenders they pull over with a friendly handshake.
According to Lt Suwari, it is important to make the motorist feel at ease before they explain why they have been stopped and often face a fine.
Flashing police lights and uniformed officers can unnerve a civilian, and a person’s mood can influence how they continue their journey – if they are angry or stressed, they are likely to make further mistakes on the road.
“Our priority is safety,” says Lt Suwari, explaining that it is often their task to diffuse a situation through being calm, patient and friendly.
He believes that, in 99 per cent of cases, the public feels the police are “with them rather than against them”. The other 1 per cent can react differently. “Some people get confused or are unsure how to act when they see us,” he says. “Sometimes motorists are agitated or fearful at being stopped. But if a traffic police officer does the job right, motorists often drive away in the knowledge a fine was deserved – and with a friendly reminder about road etiquette and safety.
“We want to know that whether they are getting a fine, or any other procedure, they are not angry. If they are, we try to make them smile. You must be very, very patient with people.”
Because of this, traffic officers often also act as a counsellor, says Lt Suwari, citing a case when a drunk man was seen standing away from his car in the middle of the street, at night, apparently suicidal and crying.
Lt Suwari and his partner persuaded the man to walk to a safer spot and to tell them what was wrong.
“After 15 minutes, he finally said he had lost his dog,” says Lt Suwari. “He said life made no sense without his dog.”
But sometimes it is the traffic officers who need counselling, especially after a tragedy. Lt Suwari and Lt Al Bidwawi share the same experience when asked about the worst incident they have yet faced.
A driver sitting in a car parked on the side of the road had been hit by an oncoming vehicle.
When Lt Suwari pulled open the driver’s door, he saw the motorist had been cut in two at the waist. Such incidents, he says, haunt officers.
“These things we will never forget. My hair is white now with everything we see.”
Published: April 11, 2016 04:00 AM