An initaitive of Rwanda NAtional Police (RNP) Community policing (CP) week is an annual police-community partnership that aims at promoting and supportsing organisational strategies to address the causes and fear of crime and social disorder through problem solving tactics.
The need for Community Policing
Traditionally, the police had to wait around passively for crimes to occur and only react to urgent calls for services. The symptoms, instead of the causes of crime were addressed and social problems as well as non-crime issues received less attention. As a result of limited communication with the community as well as viewing of the community as merely the source of information, the police and the community were alienated from each other.
This state of affairs contributed to the widening of the gap between the police and the community they were meant to serve.
Today, there is growing expectation that the force must fulfill a broader police role than was traditionally the norm (e.g. reactive behaviour). The idea of a more flexible policing style with the emphasis on unique community expectation is receiving growing support.
Modern policing calls for a transformation from the traditional reactive type of policing to a more pro-active system of policing with an aim of providing better services.
Because the need for consultation or communication with the community has been expressed on a daily basis, consequently, traditional policing is losing momentum in this new era, and a new style of policing which is Community Policing had to be officially adapted and implemented in Rwanda.
This policing concept conforms to the ideal of a “multi agency approach” whereby the police, the public, elected officials at all levels; government and other agencies work in partnership to address crime and community safety.
Law enforcement, especially Rwanda National Police, do, in conformity with the National Constitution and more so the Police Act, perform their duties based on ‘Community Policing’ ethos which are in line with the ‘7Cs’ principles of:
Communicating with the Community to
Change for sustainable peace, democracy and development to take root.
Why Community Policing Committees (CPCs)
In an attempt to democratically and efficiently police the Rwandan society, the RNP chose community policing approach (Community Based Policing) whereby local communities are involved in identifying security issues and consequently finding solutions for such issues.
Effective Community Policing has a positive impact in reducing neighbourhood crime, helping to reduce the fear of crime, and enhancing the quality of life in the community. It accomplishes these aspects by combining the ideas, efforts and resources of the police, local government and community members. Community Policing has a key strategic role to play in this process hence the establishment of Community Policing Committees (CPCs).
How CPCs operate
CPCs are relevant at the lowest level because this is where the dynamics of society are centered and so are established at the Village (Imidugudu) and Cell (Utugari) levels, managed by community representatives and priorities set after consultations with the community and a designated Police Officer/Community Liaison officer (CLO) in charge of those committees at the Sector level as a facilitator.
At the Village level, the committee is composed of:
- The Village leader (Chairman)
- The in charge security (secretary) and three (03) other individuals elected by the Village Advisory Committee. The committee can replace them whenever necessary.
- The committee can refer to any other person depending on the issues to be discussed.
The members of the committee at Cell level are:
- The Cell Executive Secretary (Chairman);
- Heads of CPCs of all Villages that constitute the Cell;
- The person responsible for youth in the Cell;
- The person responsible for gender issues in the Cell;
- The people responsible for security in all Villages that constitute the Cell;
- The leader of Local Defence Unit (LDU) in the Cell;
- The committee can refer to any other person when deemed necessary depending on the problem at hand
- The committee members can elect a secretary among themselves.
The Role of Rwanda National Police
The Rwanda National Police has set internal benchmarks and indicators to monitor the implementation and functioning of C.P’s. There is a Police officer who serves as a Community Liaison Officer (CLO), at every Sector to coordinate activities of the CPCs. Rwanda National Police as well:
- Advises the committees.
- Trains members of the CPCs.
- Finds a rapid solution to problems raised by the committees.
Community Policing Week in the equation
In order to strengthen the tenets of community policing, the Rwanda National Police (RNP), early February 2013 launched the annual Community Policing (CP) Week as the force moves further to engage the general population in fighting and preventing crime, and further combating road accidents.
The Community Policing strategy developed by Rwanda National Police more than a decade ago to effectively fulfill its duties, brings the public in solving localized problems and make specific improvements that enhance the overall quality of life in their localities.
During the recently concluded Community Policing Week (2013), the Police tackled a lot of issues mainly aimed at sensitizing the public in their villages and sectors on their role in collaboration with community policing committees in detecting and reporting crime such as drug and alcohol abuse, GBV, thefts, corruption, accidents and other domestic conflicts.
Besides the citizens, the role of the media in sensitizing Rwandans on how to avoid engaging in criminal activities as well as encouraging them to report any of the criminal activities which bring about insecurity in their neighborhood was also given consideration.
The Minister of Internal Security, Sheikh Musa Fazil Harelimana, who presided over the launch held at the police headquarters in Kacyiru, hailed Rwanda National Police for living up to its mission, as entailed in the constitution.
“This indicates how accountable you [RNP] are to the people you are constitutionally mandated to protect and particularly reminding and engaging them further in the campaign to ensure the safety and security in their neighbourhoods,” the Minister stated.
He added: “The safety of the community is the safety of the nation. If there is no security in communities, then the country is not secure.”
The Rwanda Community Policing is manifested in many ways like when pupils and students act as traffic personnel to guide their colleagues to cross the road, anti-crime clubs in schools and night patrols.
Rwanda National Police works with partners such as One-UN-Rwanda in fighting and preventing crime, especially GBV related ones.
Supretendant Theos Badege, the Commissioner for Public Relations and Community Policing (PR&CP) department, noted that Community Policing has strengthened the sway in crime prevention and narrowed the police-public ratio gap.
Despite various criminal acts reported in 2012, Rwanda National Police, he said, managed to break criminal rings and apprehended prime suspects.
The nationwide awareness exercise saw anti-drug and alcohol campaigns held in schools and in youth associations through various means including media outlets and talk shows, and destruction of seized drugs.
The annual week-long Community Policing Week ended 18th Feb on high note with calls for the general public to be responsible citizens by partnering with Rwanda National Police (RNP) to improve road security in the country.
The Road Safety campaign which was held countrywide followed other activities which included anti-GBV, anti-corruption, anti-fire outbreak and anti-drug campaigns which were held in the course of the week.
Police officers interacted with road users in Nyabugogo bus terminal, among who were; drivers, motorcycle operators and passengers who were reminded of their role in combating road traffic accidents and ensuring road security.
Mr. Fidele Ndayisaba, the Mayor of the City of Kigali, reminded drivers and motorcycle operators who turned up that “security is key to development,” adding that it’s high time the community stood up, as responsible citizens, be an eye for a neighbor and cooperate with security organs to fight any security threats in their communities.
“Most road accidents are avoidable, if road users act responsibly by respecting traffic rules, the innocent lives that perish in road accidents can be saved,” noted Mr. Ndayisaba.
Eric Nisingizwe, the President of FERWACOTAMO, a motorcycle operators cooperative society, pledged “full commitment and partnership” with Rwanda National Police to enforce road security.ss
The spirit of voluntary community service has been established among Rwandans
In 2009, police distributed about 400 mobile phones to CPCs to facilitate their communication process. Police also created direct communication hotlines (112, 113, 3511, 3512, 0788311162, 0788311163) for easy and fast exchange of information with the community.
Out of 74, 765 CPCs in the country, police has already trained 41, 199, with 19, 000 of them being Training of Trainers (TOT).
sensitization campaigns have so far been conducted in 180 schools (42, 148 students) countrywide and 504 anti-crime clubs formed in schools. 535 police officers have been trained in psycho-socio to support the campaign against Gender Based Violence (GBV), 620 (TOT) other trained on Community Policing concept while 484 others were trained in policing and to follow up the activities of CPCs.
Community Liaison Officers (CLOs) and District Liaison Officers are now stationed at every sector and district respectively to follow up on the activities of CPCs and to advise them.
Police also trained 1150 opinion leaders, who include administrative and church leaders and owners of bars and hotels, on Community Policing.
“Kuba ijisho ry’umuturanyi” translated as “Neighborhood Watch” Systems has become a norm among Rwandans where every citizen ensures safety of a neighbor.
Anti-Crime Clubs have been established, Citizen’s Charter Forum of citizen’s representatives in place and there are crime analysis and generation of community profiles.
Other achevements include: crime awareness programmes through the Police Week activities and Traffic Week, tree planting programmes by police, interaction with the community through “Umuganda”, workshops, talk shows and Schools Outreach Programmes.