The Rwanda National Police as an institution has metamorphosed from a fragile entity that it was 11 years ago, to a professional and vibrant Police Force. The New Times’ Paul Ntambara talked to the IGP Emmanuel Gasana on how this institution has been able to spell out a total paradigm shift into new strength of service.
Over the last eleven years since its inception, Rwanda National Police has continued to grow strong in terms of force and equipment so as to ensure the security of citizens and their property. Strengthening of the force is informed by the changing nature of crimes committed within and across borders. The digital revolution has seen the emergence of new threats to cyber security like money laundering and terrorism. A multifaceted approach by Rwanda National Police to counter these crimes has necessitated investment in capacity building, strengthening community policing and enhancing international cooperation.
Capacity building is core to the Vision of the Rwanda National Police. This is in line with the aspiration of professionalising the force, making it enlightened, effective, efficient and accountable. Capacity building entails training and equipping the force. It is about creating a force that is capable, credible and vibrant with equipment and materials normally called the equipments-force-multiplier.
Rwanda National Police has improved its force through training. This has been done through offering specialised skills training, collective training, and unit training. The training has been conducted in the areas of command, administration and management. All this is in line with the mission, mandate and all the core values that support the institution programs.
To further boost its training programmes, RNP has set up a Rwanda National Police Academy that has three faculties; Professional Policing Studies faculty, the IT faculty, and the Law Enforcement faculty. Professional Police Studies undergraduate program is crosscutting. It infuses law and police studies. It is a tripartite partnership between Rwanda National Police, Kigali Institute of Education and Teesside University in United Kingdom to professionalize and build the capacity of the Police Force.
The academy plans to offer senior staff, intermediate command and staff course. It also intends to offer Masters Degree programmes in partnership with the National University of Rwanda, Kigali Institute of Science and Technology, Kigali Institute of Education and Teesside University in UK so as to offer a full package in academic and command related senior and junior courses. In the same framework of capacity building, at the Police training school, RNP offers basic training, promotional and specialised training courses. RNP is also introducing the logistics component and the peace support centre.
E-policing also forms part of the capacity building drive. The web-based policing concept is aimed at equipping officers with new knowledge so that they match with the new trends in technology. RNP has established, toll-free lines of communication, established an intranet system to improve internal communication and will soon launch a Police radio and roll-out the installation of CCTV cameras. RNP has a presence on social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Flicker and YouTube.
Community policing is a partnership between the police and community to address the causes of crime and social disorder through problem solving tactics. It narrows the gap between the Police and the Community. It is a more flexible policing style that doesn’t see the community as a mere source of information; it is a more pro-active system of policing.
Through this interaction, the community is made aware of common crimes committed like excessive drinking, drug abuse, and gender-based violence among others and their role in combating them by way of timely information sharing.
Police is also increasingly involved in human security activities to reassure the public of their safety. RNP has committed itself to plant 300 hectares of trees in the country, 10 hectares per district as an environment protection measure. The force is involved in other programmes like GIRINKA, eradicating grass thatched houses locally known as ‘Inyakatsi’, and construction of terraces to ensure human security. RNP intends to sign a MoU with Kigali City to construct modern terraces on Jali hill stretching 50 hectares. RNP is also partnering with the Ministry of Youth and Imbuto foundation in different campaigns as anti Gender Based Violence and drug abuse.
In December 2011, the Rwanda National Police in collaboration with Rwanda Defence Forces (RDF) and Rwanda Correctional services (RCS) organized a two-day conference dubbed ‘Kigali International Conference (KIC)’. It was aimed at enhancing strategies to end violence against women and girls in the region. A gender desk has been established and decentralised.
The realisation that crimes today do not recognise borders and that crimes have changed face with new technology and many still emerging RNP is refocusing to address the challenge. Crimes are now of cross border nature, they are non conventional like terrorism; so addressing them calls for engagement with other partners. International cooperation has been seen as the way forward. The international cooperation regime today is all about trying to get people connected, cooperating through joint planning.
Cooperation is needed to make sure that nations track and prevent crimes. The INTERPOL I 24/7 software that connects 190 countries is geared towards preventing crime of transnational nature. Rwanda’s Inspector General of Police Emmanuel Gasana currently sits on the INTERPOL executive committee. Training to test Interpol tools on how to respond to incidents like terrorism will be high on the agenda during his tenure. This is in bid to have a harmonised, organised and well coordinated standard operating procedure.
Peace support operations
In the same framework of international cooperation, RNP participates in peace support operations where it has offered officers in different countries; Ivory Coast (UNOCI), Liberia (UNAML), Haiti (FPU), Darfur (UNAMID), Sudan, South Sudan. RNP is the leading contributor of women in peace support operations
Rwanda has deployed a Formed Police Unit (FPU), the first of its kind on a peace keeping mission. The FPU serves under the mandate of the United Nations Stabilisation Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) after the earthquake that hit the country in 2010 claiming over 300,000 lives. The FPU performs various duties including maintaining order, conducting patrols, guarding VIPs and key installations, providing humanitarian assistance and security of internally displaced persons among other duties.
This is another pillar of enhancing security. RNP can not prevent crime by communication alone. The standard operating procedures dictate how RNP should respond, not only as a reaction but as a proactive measure. The force’s capability must be demonstrated. Through such operations, many stolen items have been recovered; criminals have been hunted down and arrested.
The force has ensured safety and security of people and property, responded to disasters fought terrorism, supported government development agenda by guarding assets of strategic value. All this is done to ensure that the community feels safe and reassured.
The understanding of police work on the part of the population is still very low; appreciating basic public order rules is a challenge. The equipment is limited due to budgetary constraints. The plan to have the country CCTV covered will be phased because of limited budget. Getting the required skilled personnel, legal and international treaties like extradition procedures are also a challenge.
What the future holds
Improving the infrastructure, welfare of personnel, creating enough force so as to extend services even to sector level and strengthening community policing so that people add their voices and support policing are priority areas for Rwanda National Police.
RNP will continue to participate and contribute at the international level through regional partnerships and continuous engagement to ensure that security concerns are well coordinated and articulated. The force will insist on proper service delivery, ensure that activities of the force are well understood through awareness campaigns to ensure that RNP is seen as an institution that reassures safety and security of the people and their property.
Police welfare will be enhanced. On top of the numerous benefits that accrue from Police work, Police officers will soon be able to access housing loans. A plan to incorporate Rwanda National Police in the Military Mituelle health insurance scheme is in the offing. Police units across the country are being reconstructed or rehabilitated. Peace support operations are being targeted to improve the Police motivation.
The after service scheme will be strengthened. Police personnel who retire will continue to get three years pay including all other benefits. Those laid off will continue to get 6 months pay.