UNMISS conducts community policing workshop to build trust between law enforcers and citizens

unmiss south sudan yambio western equatoria state unpol ssnps workshop trust confidence protection of civilians community policing

South Sudanese police officers participating in a workshop organized by police serving with UNMISS in Yambio. Photos: Martin Siba/UNMISS

9 Apr 2021

UNMISS conducts community policing workshop to build trust between law enforcers and citizens

Martin Siba

Some 15 police officers in Yambio, Western Equatoria State, have recently acquired new skills on crime investigations and how to create and maintain good relations with the citizens they protect.

That last bit is essential.

“Sometimes civilians fear the police and yet we are here to serve them. When they are afraid of us, we miss out on information and evidence. That makes our work to help citizens harder,” said Yambio Deputy Police Commissioner Hussein Gerrish, while acknowledging that trust is something his personnel must earn.

“We would like more trainings like this to give us better interaction skills and become more professional,” he added.

A two-day workshop organized by police officers serving with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan is a good start. Here, participants from different police units were taken through relevant topics like human rights and how to prevent and deal with incidents of the prevalent plague called gender-based violence.

But technical skills are of limited use if that crucial trust between law enforcement agents and the public is not there. Without it, productive cooperation between the two is hard to come by.

“The police and the community have equal responsibility for preventing illegal activities. They must have faith in each other, otherwise crime rates rise because of a lack of cooperation,” said Fredrick Oduru Ochido, the UN police officer in charge of community policing in Yambio, explaining that the opposite is also true: when police and community work together, many crimes are prevented and never take place.

Gender is an important factor when building vital trust and confidence, as noted by Sargent Cecilia Arkangelo Uvo, one of the workshop participants.

“I strongly that more women are recruited and trained to become good police officers. They [women] are often better placed to interact with other women, because there are some issues that are so confidential that most women can’t discuss them with a male officer,” she said.