Torit County to set up community policing

13 Feb 2012

Torit County to set up community policing

11 February 2012 – To strengthen security in Torit County, Eastern Equatoria State, local chiefs and community representatives vowed today during a one-day forum to set up community policing in their areas.

As a previous attempt at community policing had failed, the forum, held in thestate capital of Torit, aimed to identify and resolve possible misunderstandings between the community and police, develop trust among them and foster future mutual cooperation.

"The community should develop the understanding that police are accountable to them ... (and can) remain in service as long as they deliver efficient and honest services to the public," said First Lieutenant and Torit Community Policing Officer Benjamin John Batista.

Adding that effective policing could only occur with full community participation, First Lieut. Batista said, "People should be able to say 'our police officers' or 'our police station' and be involved in improvement efforts."

The forum was organized by South Sudan Police Service (SSPS) in cooperation with UN Police and sponsored by the Safety and Access to Justice Program (SAJP) of the United Kingdom.

According to UN Police, community policing endeavors to draw police into the community, working together with the public and other agencies to prevent and fight crime. The public actively supports the police, who orient their duties to meet specific community safety and security needs.

The 21 participants are expected to sensitization and create awareness in their villages about the need for similar forums at the payam (township) and boma (town area) levels in future. Discussions at grassroots levels are scheduled to take place in a month.

"We have realized the quality of policing partly depends on our participation and positive contribution as members of the community," said participant Mary Adier of Awag Massier Boma. "We should help the police in performing their duty so that they can serve us better."

UN Police expressed a commitment to support the SSPS in developing and strengthening community policing, while SAJP pledged to provide professional and logistical support in addressing the SSPS' main challenges in the state.

SAJP Police Advisor Alen Jarman said his organization was supporting the state police in establishing a new prison with better facilities, which should be completed in three months, and a conference hall where communities could engage with the police, to be ready in four months.