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Columns : Preventative Measure - Gamal Newry Last Updated: Feb 6, 2017 - 2:32:04 PM

The Community 'Policing Themselves'
By Gamal Newry
Feb 5, 2008 - 4:37:21 PM

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If you recall I stated in previous writings that our approach to community policing was a failure, now based on the numbers released yesterday it is as I said, 'painfully obvious'. The 5 years of the Urban Renewal has demonstrated and proven that Community Policing as we have chosen to implement it cannot and will not work. So what if the initiative received international acclaim, it is not working. I recall the announced visiting of the health department of a restaurant I worked at, the entire day and night before was dedicated to cleaning of the kitchen and eating area. We passed the inspection.

In my opinion we have taken pieces and parts of a puzzle and run off with them, without not fully understanding how they work in the first instance and secondly how they work in our environment and culture. The Community Policing concept has its contemporary roots with the New York City Police Department in 1994 and is from this management concept where many policing strategies including COMPS TAT, came from. We did not consider the resource bought human and financial required to make such an undertaking successful. Further we did not consider in my opinion the social and economic distance required to make this work.

The administration of law and order, in some instance must also be separated form the masses in an attempt to keep its execution impartial and without prejudice. It's very difficult for the neighborhood kid, to come into his / her community and effectively exercise the powers given to them by the state, without some challenge and extreme criticism. This is not for a moment supporting of foreign police, however it is recognizing the need for adequate preparation for this challenge not ignoring it. Some have argued that the police are a part of the community should not then they be working the streets. This is true, however the police are a part of the community that is least understood as in one instant they are helping you and in another they are arresting you. Very difficult concept to comprehend and accept.

Why are we prepared to parade the police as our friends today and later the police are kicking down our doors taking us in for questioning? Again, I fully support this approach because in some instances it is necessary. The police will have to use force even to taking of life, as this is there job and the community, yes you and me, have given them this authority. Yet when they do regardless if the information is right or wrong, there is an outcry in the community that they cannot do this.  Because of this dual role, their actions will always be seen as untrustworthy. That is why other civic groups must step in to fill the roll of helper. Community organization that are not polarizing in their function need to step up, and assist not the police but just assist I the maintenance of law and order.

Crime is a global phenomenon and every culture and community has its crime and deviant factors. Never the less how each community deals with and manages crime differs. Even in our small country any seasoned police officer will tell you that New Providence crime fighting differs from how crime is dealt with in Bimini and Inagua. Should this be, maybe not, but this is how it is.  We cannot forget that we are dealing with people each one unique and having varying perceptions and perspectives. It is difficult to find a one size that fits all solution, but the solution cannot be left to the police or some magic bullet called Urban Renewal or Community Policing or Government as a matter of fact. It is amazing to me that after all this time crime is seen as a police based solution occurrence.  It is extremely rare that we see the police complaining of crime events being directed at them. Yes we did recently have the killing of the police in the line of duty, but there has been no direct attack on the police in our society in recent times.

So the police do a walk about, WOW, media blitz and front page news. But wait a minute shouldn't the police always be walking about and not just in the day. I smile when I see these stories, noting the time of day, and the numerous kaki uniforms present. Why are these events not taking place during the night? Why these events are arranged for the convenience of the media not necessarily the residents. The police are to be patrolling the streets, it matters not if they are walking or using cars or bicycle they are to be present all the time. I am concerned even though I smile, that it police patrolling or visiting the residents in the neighborhood is front page news. But this makes my point even more clear, the police have been trained to do policing or the enforcement of law. The paradigm shift to preventative strategies, calls for fundamental changes in the entire policing training process. Take for example, car is seen at 2am on East West Highway, 2  black male occupants, no crime has been reported, no suspicious activity demonstrated, should the police stop these men. If yes, the police will be stopping cars all night long, in to next week. Never the less statistics will show that the fact they are black males driving at 2am in the streets of Nassau, must be up to no good. So the vehicle is stopped, it turns out that they are hotel workers on their way home form work, the driver is giving his coworker a ride home. Is it ok I ask for the arbitrary and random stopping of citizens because of race, time of day and location? If you say yes, then I tell you that this is security not policing. Policing is when information is received of a crime event and action taken to discover and arrest the alleged crime breakers. The police are trained to do the latter. If we are asking for the random checking then I ask you to picture yourself traveling at an airport. If you recall everyone is checked and some of us randomly checked in more detail because we fit certain profile weather by body language or we happen to be the sixth person in and every sixth person method.

For the police to be effective they need the help of the community, yes you and me. As mentioned Community Policing are not the police in the community, but the community policing themselves. Are we prepared to call CRIMESTOPPERS Hotline at 328-8477? This is a simple yet effective example of Community Policing that does not receive the attention and support necessary.

This is community policing, where the community acquires the knowledge of the law and holds themselves and the police accountable for enforcing it.  When we go to the doctor or the mechanic, these professionals first have to listen to what is wrong, then they are able to prescribe and 'recommend' corrective actions and solutions. We then leave hoping that these recommendation and solutions, never the less we are now responsible for the upkeep of the body or vehicle. Remember these professionals are only sought out after the fact, after a problem is indentified or created. Likewise, the police are only sought after the fact and even then they can only proceed with the event if you request it. You did realize all this power you have, yet you say the police must solve the problems in your community, on your street corner and in some instances your house.

Let the police do policing, his is what they are trained to do, community policing even though it caries with the word 'policing' is really a task in my opinion left to the churches, schools and civic groups. These organizations are more readily accepted as a part of the masses, not seen as. These units must sell the need for policing they must convince the general populace that police are their friends and more importantly they the public have a part to play in keeping their streets and communities safe.

Gamal Newry is the President of Preventative Measures, a Loss Prevention and Asset Protection Training and Consulting Company, specializing in Policy and Procedure Development, Business Security Reviews and Audits, & Emergency and Crisis Management. Comments can be sent to P.O. Box N-3154 Nassau, Bahamas or, email gnewry@preventativemeasures.net   or visit us at www.preventativemeasures.net

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