Community policing: It takes a town to raise a police force, these residents discover

Jamshed Town starts initiative after help comes from a surprising place.


Amir Farooqi July 23, 2011

KARACHI:


The Ferozabad police station has joined hands with some residents of the area to launch a community initiative which will hopefully not only help the police become better at their job but would make the area safer as well. Ferozabad’s jurisdiction covers all of PECHS, Tariq Road, Bahadurabad, Hill Park, among other areas.


The Police-Community Development Initiative (PCDI) has three main aims. It hopes to create a professional working environment for the police working at the Ferozabad police station, create a cooperative relationship between the police and the residents, and help better lay down the writ of the force in the area. The project will also try to make the station’s workings transparent.

The PCDI will get the police and residents to work together to achieve these aims.

Work on this project began after the police station was approached by some residents who felt that the police should be supported by the community in order to perform well and not just vilified for alleged high-handedness. The residents felt that they could help the police create a professional force that would be accessible to the rich and poor alike.

This idea fit in well with the Sindh police chief Wajid Ali Durrani’s decision to open three community centres within the remit of each police station in Karachi in order to combat crime and violence by engaging the residents. In fact, the Darakhshan police station is also being supported by its residents through the Police Reform Initiative.

As a first step here too, a cafeteria has been set up and will start serving breakfast, lunch and dinner at subsidised rates to the police. The lock-up at the police station has been provided built-in beds and functioning toilets for anyone in custody. The aim is to make the police more aware of the rights of the accused. Work is also being done on streamlining procedures to report a crime in order to slowly phase out the infamous ‘thana culture’.

A central component of PCDI is the construction of a small clinic at the police force’s residential quarters adjacent to the police station, where about 600 men, women and children live in sub-standard conditions. When construction is completed in five or six months, this clinic will employ a doctor and provide primary health care not only to the families of the police personnel, but also to people living in the unplanned settlement or basti nearby and domestic staff working in residences around the police station.

With the help of residents, officials at the police station and elders in the basti will try to settle small disputes amicably under this scheme. Traffic violations, under-age driving, the unauthorised use of loud speakers, signboards and posters are also on the list of issues to be tackled in this community effort.

The neighbourhood residents and people living in the police residential quarters will also be organised so that everyone helps conserve water, plants trees, and keeps an eye on criminal activities, hopefully creating a sense of ownership in the community.

The writer is the town police officer for Jamshed Town and can be reached at [email protected]

Published in The Express Tribune, July 23rd, 2011.

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