Community Policing: Responding to Crime Through Local Participation

The Community Policing Program has graduated 9694 special constables across 13 training centers in the country. The program by the Ministry of Police Affairs was initiated to curb the high level of crime and violence in the country by balkanizing crime through the perspective of neighborhoods and localities. The training included basic police duties, the concept of rule of law, police-community relations, intelligence gathering, neighborhood policing, basic knowledge of human rights, and consequence of abuse of office in a democratic setting, among others. President Muhammadu Buhari had in the month of August approved the sum of N13.3 billion to launch the scheme.

Although some experts have faulted the initiative, stating the need for restructuring to win public confidence. Others have asserted that community police should be separate from the Nigeria Police in all forms so that the people can fully engage it without the sentiments that they had with the police. There have been complaints of difficulty in working with the police as presently constituted. ‘Nigerians hate the police they don’t have any good rapport with the police,’ says Ben Okezie, a veteran Security Expert and Columnist. ‘The IG should as a matter of urgency first of all bring Nigerians closer to the police, let the police be truly our friends, and then you’ll see the success of community policing.’

The absence of community policing was also a contributory factor to the establishment of ‘Operation Amotekun’. South-West governors (Lagos, Osun, Ogun, Ondo, Oyo and Ekiti) on January 9, launched an initiative for the establishment of a security formation called ‘Amotekun’. The establishment of Amotekun opened up conversation on security across the country, while some people supported it as a way for locals to secure their home in which they bear strong connections others kicked against it asserting that such organisations are capable of becoming a threat to the peace of the country. The security outfit was created to assist the police in fighting kidnapping, armed robbery, and other prevailing menace in the society taking into cognizance the high rise of insecurity in the South-west region and across the nation. The move was opposed by some as it was seen as a threat to national security, thereby making it seem illegal. The supporters likened the Amotekun to the existing Hisbah and Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) security outfits that are active in the Northern region. Others embraced the initiative, seeing it as a means to curb insecurity in the country.

There were major achievements by the Amotekun following the installation. In Osun state, the Amotekun Corps arrested Illegal miners in the state on the 4th of June 2020. The Amotekun in Ekiti State also arrested three thieves in Isinbode, Ekiti State. The underlying weakness of the ‘Operation Amotekun’ pertains to the fact that it is not established under an enabling law. It was solely an unanimous agreement by state governors.

However, the community policing program can be termed to be more effective in detecting crime and maintaining law and order as communities are adequately involved. This is part of the benefits the national security operatives benefit from the community police, such as the CJTF, because they help serve as the ‘eyes’ and ‘ears’ of internal security. Community Policing emphasizes the importance of halting crimes before it happens, in contrast to responding to calls for service prior to the event. The police becomes a part of the community because of the various cordial interactions between Community Police and the Nigeria Police Force. This relationship could also lead to trust between residents of the community and the police.

There is, however, the need for the police to know the security needs of host communities and be equipped with thorough criminal statutes.  They Nigeria Police need to come to an understanding of the people’s expectation of the police force. There must be consideration for the diverse identities that are prevalent in each community.

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The success of the program will be through a working partnership between communities and the police. Accountability can only be achieved through equity. The society needs to play its part in rebuilding trust in the security operating system. In a situation where a policeman commits an offence, citizens should not decide to take law into their hands, thereby approving a system of violence. Although there have been previous failures in the security system, community policing still needs to be embraced as the nation needs to have Federal Police, State Police and Local Police.

Peace Omenka

Photo Credit: NaijaLivetTv

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