The United States of America, Country Public Affairs Officer, Aruna Amirthanayagam, has thrown his weight behind the call for community policing in Nigeria, saying that law enforcement remains a collaborative effort requiring honest, open and positive relationships with the communities they serve.
Amirthanayagam said this at the flag-off of the national training workshop on Preventive Policing and Citizenship’s Partnership Project, organised by African Youth Initiative on Crime Prevention held recently at the POWA Multipurpose Hall, Oduduwa Crescent, Ikeja, Lagos.
According to him, the concept of community policing in the fight against crime is still a developing one but the desired outcome remains unchanged-to reduce crime by building trust between law enforcement entities and the communities they serve.
He said “when the trust of the people is lost, along with it goes their cooperation”.
Amirthanayagam, who was represented by Special Agent with US Department of State’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security, Jay Miller, noted that community policing also has a positive impact on youths when law enforcement officers proactively engage with them and provide a positive experience-one that is likely to influence their initial perceptions of policing officers.
He stated further that the partnerships between law enforcement officers and the communities they serve, along with problem solving techniques, pay large dividends by addressing the conditions that give rise to public safety issues, such as crime, social disorder, and the fear that criminals can wreak on a community.
In his keynote speech, the Executive Secretary of the Nigeria Police Trust Fund, Admed Aliyu Sokoto, enjoined Nigeria Police Force to be citizens friendly, civil and humane so as to cultivate and sustain public support.
He said intelligence-led policing is smart policing. It targets active and persistent criminals and their activities. It also seeks to address the causes of crime and conflict in partnership projects with affected communities.
Sokoto opined that another feature of intelligence -led community policing is its mobilisaton of the majority of law abiding citizens to work with the police to reduce crime and arrests criminals.
The Executive Director of African Youth Initiatives on Crime Prevention, Chris Ibe, said the objective of this project is to train 5, 500 selected police officers across the 37 police commands in Nigeria.