The mere sight of the modest police headquarters makes one understand why the Rwanda National Police (RNP) is a well-oiled machine that has impressed many a foreigner.
The clean orderly buildings complete with an immaculate well-manicured garden that also acts as a roundabout, is only matched by the smartness of its officers and men.
From the 3000-strong force that was a merger of three institutions 10 years ago; the Gendarmerie, Judicial Police and the Communal Police, the RNP has grown three fold, and the sky is the limit.
“When it comes to Command and control and providing security to the nation, we have actually reduced crime,” said Commissioner General of Police, Emmanuel Gasana, revealing that crime had reduced by 28%.
“The force levels, the force strength and projection have also increased by almost three times. We have trained and developed the force and we actually gone into the line of professionalism”.
Gasana opened his heart to The New Times, on the achievements, future prospects as well as challenges.
“The force has been performing very well; so much that the international community has requested for our peace support operations, and as I talk now, we have 400 of the police force in Darfur, in Southern Sudan, Haiti and in Liberia.
The response has been very good from international partners in peacekeeping. The performance of the police force has had a very big impact so much that even today they request more forces to go to mission areas. They prefer to work with Rwandan National Police because of our discipline and conduct. We have been rated high and the response has been so good.
Next month 160 will proceed to Haiti and 300 female police will be heading to Darfur. This is a very good reflection of what the attitudes are and the responses from the international community on the Rwanda National Police.
The National Police has a doctrine; we have values, standards, norms and ethos. And this is reflected in what we take to mission areas from our own country; the way we behave, the way we conduct ourselves, the way we perform the duties.
When they come back from the mission areas the work performance improves because they have had this value addition on the skills”.
“We have challenges of logistics support, especially in areas of communications to meet the challenges of ICT such as the emerging crimes like cyber crimes.
We are trying to develop a CID that is fully equipped and organised in order to make sure that we are delivering a real and educated report from forensics. We have developed a forensics laboratory and have also entered into a scheme with key forensics services in the UK, and we have agreed with them to train, develop and equip our forensics to the standards that we want.
We are trying to establish effective command and control; we are creating a very effective leadership, management and administration, to ensure that we have a corrupt-free police”.
“This concept links the institution to the people. It is intended to prevent and manage crime, and quick reaction responses through information exchange. The crime prevention is by people trying to advise others to disseminate information about community policing, so that they police themselves.
The police even have toll free phone numbers for easy communication with the public: 112 for emergency services, 113 for the traffic police and 3512 for Gender-based violence.
That is very important when it comes to people policing themselves. It is more or less like a neighbourhood watch.
The perception of community policing by the people is very good. We have recruited and trained 74,000 people for the community policing committees. We use the SARA model; Scanning, Analysis, Responses and Action. It is a very good model that we use when we are dealing with community police concept”.
Taking part in peacekeeping missions is also a learning experience for the police, which they impart to the peers once they return home
“We learn a lot, we learn how to behave while in multinational environment, the conduct and nature of the work, and being introduced to conflict management and responses which translated into skills development within ourselves”.
Recent high profile crimes:
“Rwanda is one of the safest in the region, and I must underscore that. Of course I cannot say everything is fine,” he said, referring to some highly mediatised crimes, adding that they are done in the context of the political mood in place, such as the forthcoming Presidential elections.
“We managed to conduct operations, made arrests and even detail the criminals that were carrying out these acts. That is why today we have registered success. We have managed to deter some of these activities by these thugs.
Criminals are taking advantage of the political mood, even the grenade attacks that took place in February are in the same context.
You can see, the trend of events over the past few months, the cases we have handled, about six of them, have been conducted very well, professionally”.
The Commissioner General gave an example of the recent murder of Andre Kagwa Rwisereka in the Southern Province, which he said was proceeding well.
“The media has talked a lot about it, but if you go through that case and try to investigate it , you will find that the one suspect who has so far been arrested, seems to have been having shady business dealings with Rwisereka,” said Gasana, referring to the suspect, Ntivuguruzwa Thomas.
He was the last person to be seen with him. He slept in the deceased’s lodges, impersonated himself. From our findings, Kagwa Rwisereka has had dealings with some shady people in Butare. When you go deep into the matter, you find that it is a business matter; it has nothing to do with politics.
Indications are there, how this person has had business contradictions with other people, you know... some smuggling, money laundering of some kind, including Banque Lambert (illegal loan sharking). So far we have two cases that have been reported to us about Banque Lambert. This man who was arrested was also in the same racket”.
Commissioner General Emmanuel Gasana has ambitious plans for the Police, and notwithstanding the insufficient resources, and says the future is bright for the decade-old force.
“The future strategy and prospects of the police, once we have established command and control, once we have trained the police and have effective communication, it will account to the professionalization of the police.
The priority areas are equipping the CID, equipping and modernising the Traffic Police and strengthening community policing.
The police respect the rule of law, we arrest people in accordance with the law and we conduct disciplined police operations.
We have a security plan for the elections so that we have a safe and smooth electoral process to have the desired candidate elected in an incident-free process.
We would like to assure Rwandans, that we are making sure that Rwanda is safe and secure for all”.