Community police – The Nation

  • As a stop-gap measure, it matches Governor Sanwo-Olu’s low- hanging fruit approach

The concept of community policing is a counterfeit for the state police Nigerians are clamouring for. In recent times, as insecurity across the country spirals out of control, many who opposed state police, have however joined the clamour for it, but it appears the federal authorities are more interested in community policing as the panacea for the rising insecurity. That Federal Government alternative has berthed in Lagos, with the deployment of 1,250 constables for community policing.

While we have always advocated for state police, we join in welcoming the community policing as a stop-gap while the thorny issue of state police is resolved. No doubt, the present policing architecture has failed the country, and that was clear during the violence that followed the #EndSARS protests. With the federal police destabilised, states became porous such that hoodlums had opportunity to do untold damage to the state and federal infrastructure. Indeed, many state governors bemoaned their helplessness as vandals wreaked havoc in their states.

Lagos was particularly a victim, as assets worth over one trillion naira were razed in the few days of madness. So, the demand for amendment of our constitution and other extant laws to allow state governments establish state police would not go away, as the security gap existing cannot be filled by community policing. But, while we await that development, let us invest energy to ensure the community policing works. The police can use community policing to elevate intelligence gathering which is fundamental to effective policing. AS Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu indicated recently, Lagos cannot recover overnight from the onslaught if last year  He is adopting the “low-hanging fruit” approach. Community policing serves that purpose.

The constables who are not to bear arms would concentrate on ferreting out intelligence which will be passed on to the regular police for action. We agree that modern policing relies more on intelligence than brawn, so we hope community policing can be deployed to nip the atrocities being perpetrated by hoodlums in the bud. This can happen if crack intelligence corps of community police can penetrate criminal gangs and forestall their dastardly acts before they are consummated. So, let’s hope that community policing would fill that yawning gap.

As the name implies, we hope the constables are being recruited from the communities they are to police? The idea of community policing, we believe, is that persons from local community would be recruited and trained to police their communities. After all, there is no person who can know a community more than those who were born and raised in such communities. Again, there is no person who can understand the terrain and idiosyncrasies of the people more than those from that community.

So, we urge that the community policing should be given its full meaning, so that its impact can be observed and weighed. We urge the relevant authorities not to hijack the recruitment and defeat its fundamental basis. For those who have been recruited, we urge them to see themselves as pioneer ambassadors and they should do whatever is appropriate to live up to expectation. They must not fall into the cesspool of corruption which has been the hallmark of regular police.

Of note, their core mandate, which is intelligence gathering, requires specialised skills, and those in charge must provide them with training and vital equipment. While working to make community policing efficient, we still believe that in a federation, the concept of unitary police is abnormal. What we have seen have been state chief executives who are called state chief security officers only in name.

As our population continues to balloon, the challenge of insecurity would keep expanding. And unless we address the policing challenges frontally, we would continue to lick our wounds from the harm our policing inefficiencies cause our people.

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