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Towards effective community policing

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The issue of insecurity across the country remains a source of serious concern both to  government and the governed.  With the seeming inability of the Police to cope with bourgeoning security challenges, state governments are devising  alternatives to complement the police efforts in tackling the problem.

Cross view of the newly inaugurated Lagos Neigbourhood Safety Corps (LNSC) by Governor Akinwunmi Ambode at the Agege Mini Stadium, Lagos, on Monday

Lagos State Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, was the latest to seize the initiative with the launch of Neighbourhood Safety Corps. Lagos is one of the states  grappling with  crimes like armed robbery and kidnapping in recent time. The State House of Assembly, in  a bid to eradicate kidnapping recently, passed a law prescribing death penalty for the crime.

Several security equipment including vehicles and motorcycles were provided for the corps to enhance their operations. Kano and Anambra States , among others, have similar security outfits. There is no doubt that the move is a major step towards enhancing security all over the state, as cases of kidnapping are rampant in some areas due to the absence of such  an outfits.  Preparatory to the launch, the Governor assented to a law establishing the, Neighbourhood Safety Corps on August 15,2016, to provide another layer of policing the state and its  communities. The Kick Against Indiscipline(KAI Brigade) and LASTMA are previous initiatives in this regard targeted at societal ills.

There is no doubt that the Nigeria Police Force(NPF) with its present command structure is overwhelmed by security challenges across states and communities. The rampaging herdsmen attacking communities and wreaking sundry havoc, including cold blooded murder, rape and arson is an example. This glaring helplessness of the Federal police in critical emergency periods has heightened call for state police. Fears had been expressed that state police could be used for selfish political objectives. Such identified security challenges in some of the states necessitated setting up of community policing, especially in cosmopolitan areas like Lagos with diverse population. Peculiar environments are effectively policed by those who have good knowledge of the terrains.

At present, establishment of the police is an exclusive preserve of the Federal Government. It requires an amendment of the 1999 Constitution before states can have their own police. That is why state-created security units should not compete with the regular Police. They should assist them in providing useful intelligence for crime detection and prevention since they are more conversant with the people in  their respective local communities.  They should also assist the Police in effecting arrests of known perpetrators of criminal activities. They are expected to perform these tasks with the requisite knowledge and skills, coupled with the trainings they are exposed to.

We call on the Police to see the outfits as partners in progress and not as competitors. There should be co-operation on both sides in order to minimize the nation’s crime rate. Governors should avoid the temptation of using them to serve  their political interests.

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