As Rwanda National Police (RNP) edges closer to its 16th anniversary, its partners are pledging more support toward community policing programmes that have largely served as effective tools to ensure public order, safety and security of Rwandans.
Over the last 16 years, RNP and its partners have embraced people-centered policing involving, development partners, various social groups, local authorities and the general public which has helped citizens to report incidents and provide timely information leading to police quick response to calls and complaints, police officials say.
RNP partners in crime prevention include ‘police ambassadors’, youth volunteers, anti-crime clubs in schools, community policing committees, grassroots local leaders, and development partners.
Police officials say that the collaboration of the social groups and development partners in crime prevention provides a strong backbone for community policing.
“All police ambassadors and other partners reaffirmed their commitment by signing on the Police Signing Board in June 2015,” the Force said in a statement released Friday.
Over 20,000, youth volunteers who are mainly high school and university students as well as graduates committed to partnering with RNP voluntarily in crime prevention and detection, it said.
According to Wellars Gasamagera, the chairperson of ‘police ambassadors’, communities are engaged in preventing and fighting crimes from petty theft, delinquency or vagrancy, to sophisticated cases of organized crimes, murder, corruption, drug abuse, sexual and gender-related crimes, and human trafficking. “Communities work hand in hand with police to proactively address the immediate conditions that give rise to public safety issues such as crime, social disorder, and fear of crime”.
He pointed out that, in Rwanda, communities have been involved in this trend. “People have understood that Government has a role to play but the citizens too have a duty to deliver in partnership towards ensuring sustainable security”.
He added: “We, as police Ambassadors and members of the community policing body, are committed to this noble cause and pledge our relentless efforts to deliver in our different capacities in contributing to the national security agenda, we fully embrace and commit to the Rwanda National Police’s vision: People in Rwanda are safe, involved and reassured.”
In an interview, Marie-Immaculée Ingabire, the chairperson of Transparency International Rwanda, also a partner in crime prevention, hailed the efforts of RNP in fighting crime.
“RNP has achieved a good level of public trust because of bringing its services closer to the people and being available all the time to deliver services in the shortest possible time. One of these services is Isange One-Stop Center that has significantly helped victims of Gender Based Violence and child abuse to quickly recover from its effects,” she is quoted in the statement as saying.
She further said that she is “very much aware of RNP’s zero tolerance to crimes particularly corruption and related tendencies”.
In the context of bringing services closer to the public, the Force provided toll free lines for various crime areas, including emergency call 112, child help line 116, GBV 3512, traffic and road safety 113, corruption 997 and fire and rescue services 111.
“All these lines have helped Police to respond to any eventuality in the shortest time possible and get feedback from the public,” the statement reads in part.
While sharing his experience as a youth volunteer in crime prevention, Steven Rugengamanzi, who hails from Gatsibo District, said that Community Policing has contributed tremendously in crime prevention through information sharing and timely response.
“It has come to my knowledge that when information is shared quickly, some criminals can be detected before or even during their course of committing an offense and this helps in foiling the crime or bringing the offenders to justice and this has led to the security we enjoy today,” he said.
Rugengamanzi’s assertion is also confirmed by 2015 Gallup Law and Order Index that ranked Rwanda as the safest nation in Africa and 5th safest in the world. The Gallup 2015 Global Emotions Report also ranked Rwanda as the safest place to walk at night in Africa and 5th globally.
The 2014/2015 Global Competitiveness Index (GCI), by the World Economic Forum, also ranked Rwanda as the best country in Africa and 21st globally where citizens trust and rely on Police services to enforce law and order with 5.8 out of seven.
On the local arena, a recent Rwanda Governance Board scorecard showed that 97.4 per cent of Rwandans had complete trust in the police.
Writing in the ‘Police Book’ in 2014, Lamin Momodou Manneh, the United Nations Resident Coordinator for Rwanda, said, “National Police, in partnership with the Rwandan people, demonstrated strong commitment and capability to serve and protect all the people living in Rwanda”.
The Commissioner for Community Policing, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Damas Gatare, said RNP embarked on community policing as part of the Force’s vision.
“We appreciate the role of our partners in policing and we call upon them to actively participate in the forthcoming campaigns to mark the RNP 16th anniversary that will be rolled out soon and culminate into Police Day on June 16,” said ACP Gatare.