Community policing, or community-oriented policing, is a strategy of policing that focuses on police building ties and working closely with members of the communities | (File photo)

The Police Service has been from ancient times a much respected service in our country. However, in recent days, it appears to   have sadly lost its standing in our society. The Police must be upgraded and made a special service like the old Civil Service. Only the best suitable for the profession must be attracted to join this department at all levels. This is because we boast of the highest level of literacy in the developing world. Since the ‘catchment area’ is available let us restructure the Department, increase salaries and ‘perks’ and attract the best possible individuals to wear the khaki uniform. If we are to ensure the security of the country we must do the needful.
There has been an unprecedented rise in brutal crimes in our country which necessitates the need to address the problem urgently. We have had many Police Commissions at various times, but there is today a need for the government to re-appoint a multi-disciplinary team to study the problem afresh. It appears to us that there has been a breakdown in relations between the community and the Police. This is an absolutely vital area that we should examine. We can draw from the experience of many countries which have adopted Community Policing practices.  I believe that a unit of the Defense Ministry which was headed by Dr. Sanjay Colonne did an in-depth study of this issue but with the change of government in January of this year that unit was disbanded. Our Police Department however did continue its training programs with the assistance of the Scottish Police and has been developing Community Policing, for example the Police organized the following programs:

Childrens’Day Program – Maskeliya
Concurrent to the World Children’s Day, an awareness program for children which was organized by Maskeliya Police Station was held recently at Saman Eliya Sinhala College and Maskeliya Muslim College of Maskeliya Police area. Another program was held to paste stickers on motor bicycles to make aware of the bicycle riders that children should not be carried on motor bicycles without helmets.

World Children’s Day Program – Menikhinna
A walk which had been organized by the Police Station – Menikhinna under the title ‘Let’s protect the world of children’. It was held at Menikhinna on 1.10.2015.
Community Service Program Organized by Uhana Police Station
A Shramadana campaign covering Nawagiriyawa wewa, Wewsiripura, Bandaradoowa areas of the Uhana Police area was held recently.

Sokari cultural event-Badulla
A sokari drama, a performance of cultural and religious significance, organized by the community Police Unit of the Badulla Division was held recently at the premises of the Police quarters –Badulla.

• Police Mobile Service – Kirulapana
Eye Clinic Community Service Program – Pugoda Police Division

• Dangerous drugs Prevention Program – Maradana

• Anti-Drug Program – Pugoda

• A Programme on road safety and prevention of drugs – Pugoda Police

• Saaragrama Program

• Anti-Narcotic Awareness Program for SchoolChildren –Pugoda Police Division

• Recruitment of Civil Defence Committee Members – Police Station Pugoda

• Raising the awareness of the drivers of school vans – Weliweriya Police Station

• Dangerous drugs Program – Maradana

While this is a good beginning it is wholly inadequate. In Japan for instance they assign two or three policemen to a particular area so that they become familiar with the residents and the residents with them, as a way of reducing crime.

***Community policing, or community-oriented policing, is a strategy of policing that focuses on police building ties and working closely with members of the communities.
Community Policing is described as ‘a philosophy that promotes organizational strategies, which support the systematic use of partnerships and problem-solving techniques, to proactively address the immediate conditions that give rise to public safety issues such as crime, social disorder, and fear of crime”.

There is no universally-accepted definition of Community Policing. However it can commonly be described as a policy that requires police to inherit a proactive approach to address public safety concerns. This type of policing has been utilized in various cities during the past 150 years. The first form of community oriented policing was credited to the London Metro Police Department around 1830. It was formed with regular patrol areas where officers were assigned; now commonly known as “beats”. Community oriented policing was a cornerstone of the Clinton Administration. According to a survey conducted by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) of more than 2,000 law enforcement agencies that have been using community policing for at least one year. Sixty two percent stated they had less crimes committed against civilians, 80 percent stated that they had reduced the fear of crime, and 99 percent stated that they had received increased cooperation from civilians.

“Community policing is a philosophy of full service personalized policing, where the same officer patrols and works in the same area on a permanent basis, from a decentralized place, working in a proactive partnership with citizens to identify and solve problems.”
According to Bertus Ferreira, an authority on the subject, “Community policing is a professional management organization that is structure for the support in the community to create proactive problem solving to address the immediate conditions that give rise to the public safety issues such as crime, social disorder and fear of crime. Community policing has partnerships between the law enforcement agency and other organizations like government agencies, community members, nonprofit service providers, private businesses and the media. Government agencies includes probation and parole, public works departments, neighboring law enforcement agencies, health and human services, child support services, ordinance enforcement, and schools. Community members can include partnerships with neighborhood associations that have meetings, town hall meetings and storefronts decentralized in the community. Nonprofit organizations include advocacy of groups like service clubs, support groups, issue groups and community development corporations. These groups work with individuals that have the same interest in the community.

The media represents a powerful tool that communicates with the community. The community policing uses the media to assist with publicizing concerns and solutions that will impact the community. The media can have an impact on the fear of crime, crime problems and perceptions of the police in the community.

The contemporary community policing movement emphasizes changing the role of law enforcement from a static, reactive, incident-driven bureaucracy to a more dynamic, open, quality-oriented partnership with the community.

Typically, this means that officers perceive themselves as sharing important community values, beliefs, and goals. It also implies that officers are confident of community support and involvement in their decisions and action”.

Many common elements in community-oriented policing include:
l Relying on community-based crime prevention by utilizing civilian education, neighborhood watch, and a variety of other techniques, as opposed to relying solely on police patrols.

l Re-structuralizing of patrol from an emergency response based system to emphasizing proactive techniques such as foot patrol.

l Increased officer accountability to civilians they are supposed to serve.

l Decentralizing the police authority, allowing more discretion amongst lower-ranking officers, and more initiative expected from them”.

I do hope that the government would appoint a special Commission to look into the state of the Police Service today. Meanwhile I presume that the Police Commission would be established under the 19th Amendment in the very near future and persons such as the Dr. Sanjay Colonne, who was involved with this subject when he was serving with the Defence Ministry, and retired respected IGPs and retired DIGs would be appointed to this Commission and would work to restore the image of the Service.