Community policing takes off fully in Lagos
By Precious Igbonwelundu
The Lagos State Police Command has commenced full implementation of the community policing strategy with inauguration of three Community Policing Committees (CPC) across the Area Commands, Local Government/Council Areas (LGA/LCDA) and Divisions in the state.
These committees were inaugurated by the Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) Zone two, Ahmed Iliyasu accompanied by Police Commissioner Hakeem Odumosu and Deputy Commissioners of Police (DCPs).
According to a statement by spokesman Bala Elkana, the committees inaugurated were Area Command Community Policing Advisory committees, Local Government Advisory committees and Divisional Community Policing Committees.
These inauguartions followed the earlier establishment of State Community Policing Advisory Committee and State Community Policing Committee by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu to drive community policing policies and strategies approved by the federal government and championed by the police.
“Community policing is both a philosophy and an organisational strategy that allows the police and the community to work closely together in creative ways to solve the problems of crime, illicit drugs, fear of crime and social disorder. It is a partnership between the police and members of the community to fight crime, criminalities and other social issues/disorder within the community which will eventually improve the quality of life for everyone in that community.
“The community policing model being envisioned for Nigeria is one that draws on the legal opportunities provided by the Police Act for the engagement of Special Constables who will serve as Community Policing Officers under the coordination of the Nigeria Police towards evolving a community-focused policing architecture.
“This is necessitated by the fact that crime is community based and community based approach is required to effectively address it. In other words, local problems should be given local solutions.
“Under the Police Act, a special constable is an auxiliary police or part-time law enforcement officer who is specifically appointed to complement the conventional police in crime management and maintenance of law and order whenever the need arises, with the exception of being engaged in military duties.
“Provisions for the establishment and utilisation of Special Constables are contained in Section 49 of the Police Act and they are appointed in accordance with the provisions of Section 50(1) of the Police Act. The Act provides for the recruitment of Special Constables to serve particular security maintenance purposes within a limited geographical area. It also confers on them the powers, privileges and immunities of a Police Officer within their localities.
“The plan as approved by the Federal Government is to leverage on these statutory provisions to recruit Special Constables from within the communities, train and kit them and deploy them as Community Police Officers to drive the community policing initiative at the grassroots levels.
“The roles of Community Police Officers include: To manage and support a policing team who patrol smaller geographical areas within the community; respond quickly to distress calls in their area; arrest offenders; prevent breaches of the peace; take initial action at the scene of crimes and resolve disputes.
“Other include to deal with traffic accidents and record witness evidence; gather intelligence report daily from the community and pass on that intelligence information to the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) within the area; build formal and effective relationship with the community; give basic crime prevention advice; visit schools and give community talks to school children.
“The requirements for the appointment of the Special Constables that will serve as Community Policing Officers are contained in Section 50 of Police Act. It provides that, competent authority may appoint as a Special Constable any person whether male or female (a) Who has attained the age of 21 years but has not attained the age of 50 years; and (b) Is of good character and physically fit; (c) Has signified his/her willingness to serve as a special constable; (d) Must reside within the community…”
Community policing takes off fully in Lagos