Our Readers' Opinions
December 5, 2017
Community policing is what SVG needs now

EDITOR: Within the last 30 years, countries worldwide have seen an increase in other government agencies, as well as community members, the media and private businesses forming collaborative partnerships between themselves and the law enforcement agency. Community policing is the name given to collaborative partnership between the police and the public, which aims to develop solutions to problems within their communities and also increase trust in the police.

According to Farrell 1994, Community Policing is defined as an organization-wide philosophy and management approach that promotes community policing partnership, proactive problem-solving and community engagement to address the causes of crime, fear of crime and other community issues. The philosophy of community policing focuses on what has to be done, how it is done and whether modern management practices, techniques and technology are used to increase efficiency and effectiveness. This philosophy is based on the concept that police officers and private citizens working together in creative ways can help solve contemporary community problems related to crime, social and physical disorder and neighbourhood decay.

Here in St Vincent and the Grenadines, while some aspect of community policing is practised, such as the Pan Against Crime initiative, police and coastguard’s summer programnes, the police youth clubs, much more is needed in order to see a reduction in the crime, such as murders. Every policeman and woman must understand and be willing to play their role in aspects of community policing; it cannot be left to the few persons who are directly responsible, to see the programme succeed. Many persons criticize the Pan Against Crime programme and even the Police Youth Clubs, on the grounds that they cannot stop or have not stopped crime. While I believe that much more is needed to be done with better structures put in place, can you imagine what these hundreds of youths who are involved in these programmes would be doing in their spare time if these programmes were not around? Let us measure the success rate of these programmes through a scientific approach, by calling on the authorities to do a quantitative and qualitative study and based on the results, find ways to improve them. Community policing is not a cheap venture by any means. It will take the Government, along with the private sector, to invest heavily in such programmes.

In the United States, just before 9-11, millions had been invested in the Department of Justice in various aspects of community policing programmes and projects, in an effort to help city governments reduce crime and to assist neighbourhoods in reclaiming their identity. However, these monies were diverted to the Homeland Security, due to the high threats of terrorism. Our youths will find the wrong things to do if they are not actively involved in programnes that are designed to make them better men and women in the future. This new dimension of community policing will take major organizational change, new thinking from the police hierarchy, teamwork and the involvement of civilians, if we are to succeed in the fight against crime.

Effective community policing strategy will reduce neighbourhood crime, decrease citizen fear of crime and improve quality of life in the community. Let us begin a conversation on community policing and develop strategies to restore our country to the peaceful place it used to be and give our citizens a chance to reclaim their identity.

Brenton Smith