In 2006, Saidi Mwema, Tanzania's newly appointed Inspector General of Police, launched a long-term reform program that sought to address the rising incidence of crime, the negative public perception of the police, and the lack of police personnel and resources. The police service suffered from decades of financial neglect and a poor reputation. Its initial mandate emphasized regime policing, which oriented the police toward maintaining law and order for the protection of the state rather than the protection of the citizenry. On taking office, Mwema took bold steps to set a new tone for the police, including releasing the private telephone numbers of the police hierarchy and initiating investigations into suspected donors to the ruling Revolutionary State Party. He followed these initial reforms with a strategy-delineated by a "team of experts" comprising senior police officers and academics from the University of Dar es Salaam-to address the weaknesses of the police service. Though the reform process remained in its early stages in 2009, some progress was evident, primarily in the improved reputation of the police and more amicable relations between the police and the public. The case offers lessons for police services seeking to overcome poor reputations and community distrust through the adoption of a community-based ethos after decades of state-oriented policing.
Daniel Scher drafted this case study on the basis of interviews conducted in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in August 2009. Jonathan Friedman contributed.