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Preventing crimes in a proactive style: The Community Policing success story

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Since the establishment of Rwanda National Police (RNP), in June 2000, there has been a number of initiatives put in place to combat and prevent crimes, and create an atmosphere that favours investment and development in general.

To effectively achieve its mission, Rwanda National Police initiated the proactive mechanism – Community Policing (CP) – to engage all stakeholders, and move from the previous policing style, which was reactive in nature, and created a gap between the force and the community in policing.

Community Policing strategy brings the general public in solving localized problems or make specific improvements that enhance the overall quality of life in the community.

Community policing increases a sense of responsibility for personal safety and problem solving among citizens and shifts from a predominantly reactive response to service calls, to proactive problem solving and increases effectiveness at resolving community-wide problems.

“The spirit of voluntary community service has been established among Rwandans,” stated Supt Vuningoma.
Police also created direct communication hotlines (112, 113, 3511, 3512, 0788311162, 0788311163) for easy and fast exchange of information with the community.
In 2009, police distributed about 400 mobile phones to CPCs to facilitate their communication process. “We are also going to give out other 500 handsets to the 500 CPC members who completed training at Nkumba recently,” said Supt. Vuningoma.

Out of 74, 765 CPCs in the country, police has already trained 41, 199, with 19, 000 of them being Training of Trainers (TOT).
“We have so far conducted sensitization campaigns in 180 schools (42, 148 students) countrywide and formed 504 anti-crime clubs 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,” Supt Vuningoma said.

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.

Other 90 police officers were also trained in fighting corruption related crimes.

Police also trained 1150 opinion leaders, who include administrative and church leaders and owners of bars and hotels, on Community Policing.

“The implementation of more foot patrols in order to improve consultation between the police and the community thereby increasing police visibility and presence like at mini and mobile police stations and check points.”

“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.”

“In these profiles, information regarding the size and density of the population, demographic characteristics of residents, existing community organizations, the availability of resources as well as the political structure, is gathered.”

Supt. Vuningoma also outlined other achievements as 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.

Police Week, which is normally held in June, is an annual exercise where RNP joins the public in community activities like building houses for the poor, constructing terraces and planting of trees, as part of the celebration to mark its anniversary.

According to Supt. Vuningoma, lack of transport and communication means amongst DCLO’S and CLO’s on the ground, lack of skilled staff and untrained CPCs are one of the challenges.

“There is also technological advancement in crime omissions such as cyber crimes that cannot easily be policed. Emergency terror activities are also hard to police, which requires sophisticated equipment,” he said.

“But we have signed Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) with different stake holders to reduce the gaps that still exist. Police has also recruited more female officers to handle cases related to GBV, especially sexual cases,” he explained.

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