Speaking to journalists after a meeting with the Senate Committee on Police, the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Mohammed Adamu, had announced that August 2020 has been scheduled for completing the processes for commencement of community policing across Nigeria.
According to him, even the various committees for the exercise in all the states have been inaugurated with the actual recruitment of the operatives now outstanding.
The timeline for the exercise by the IGP was ostensibly in response to the directive of the President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan, who had called for such.
According to Lawan, “going forward from today, we must have clearly defined milestones and timelines on the implementation of community policing, something that we can go back to in six months and say where we are exactly.”
The announcement of the IGP also came against the backdrop of some states such as Lagos and Kogi having actually commenced the implementation of the project.
Hence the directive by the President of the Senate was to place matters in proper perspective.
With this development, it can be safely assumed that community policing in Nigeria may have moved from the level of planning to actual operation hence ushering a new dispensation with respect to managing insecurity in the country.
For some time, the escalating state of insecurity across the country had engaged the attention of the government as well as the citizenry with intensity, with community policing ranking as the most favoured option for complementing the efforts of the existing security architecture in the country.
Its primary appeal lies in its promise of fostering closer ties between the police and state security apparatus with the designated constituent communities across the country.
Unlike the conventional police setup, community policing is expected to emphasis the engagement of operatives with considerable links with their operational bases, where they can deploy their familiarity with the local terrain to apprehend a wide swathe of community-based lawbreakers.
However, a critical appraisal of the implications associated with the IGP’s timeline calls for a more discrete management of the process by the police high command given the catastrophic implications that may ensue in the circumstance of a less than robust implementation.
Considering that this aspect of policing requires for its success, the mandatory buy-in by members of the Nigerian public, nothing less than transparency and propriety should attend every stage of its implementation.
For instance, even as the President of the Senate and the IGP mentioned the issue of recruitment of community policing operatives, the modalities of such exercise remain largely unknown to the general public.
This is hardly the best way to start the community policing initiative which is expected to improve the performance of the country’s police establishment.
There is no gainsaying that much as the extant police establishment is working hard to keep the country safe there are still serious issues with the quality of a wide cross section of its personnel, which border on character traits and abuse of office.
This state of affairs had helped in fostering a widespread state of mistrust of the police by a wide swathe of the Nigerian public.
It will be most unhelpful if the same disposition and mistrust is allowed to infest the envisaged community police operatives even before they start operating.
This situation places on the country’s police high command the onus of ensuring that the community policing initiative takes off with a surfeit of public confidence and goodwill, based on objective factors of transparency in recruitment and deployment.
Since the operatives may likely be drawn from the respective localities, the situation requires that the police should be able to execute thorough background checks on the operatives before recruitment.