Mulugeta E* and Mekuriaw D
Sociology Department, Debremarkos University, Debremarkos, Ethiopia
Received Date: December 28, 2016; Accepted Date: April 27, 2017; Published Date: May 03, 2017
Citation: Mulugeta E, Mekuriaw D (2017) Community Policing: Practice, Roles, Challenges and Prospects in Crime Prevention in East Gojjam Administrative Zone. Social Crimonol 5: 160. doi: 10.4172/2375-4435.1000160
Copyright: © 2017 Mulugeta E, et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
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Community policing is a paradigm shift established at the bedrock of community partnership in creating safe and secure environment for all. It is policing whereby the people take active part in their own affairs; the police are not seen as a problem or stranger whose presence stands for danger but as partners in development and those members of the community are co-producers of justice and quality police service. This fact indicates the need of involving the community, the local government and the police to work together to tackle crime. One rationale for public involvement is the belief that police alone can neither create nor maintain safe communities. Despite the establishment of community policing and numerous efforts by various police administrations to curtail the level of crime in Ethiopia, crime and social disorder still persist in the country. With growing urbanization and national development, there are signs of complexity and multiplicity of criminal offenses and acts. The general objective of the study is to assess the contributions, challenges and prospects of community policing in crime prevention in selected sites of East Gojjam zone, North West Ethiopia. Mixed research method which combines both qualitative and quantitative methods was employed in this study. Quantitatively, the study generally assesses the role, predicament and prospects of community policing. Qualitatively, it probes deep and investigates the views and opinions of both the members of the society and police officers on the program as a whole, its level of implementation and satisfaction it has brought and the level of program ownership among police officers and the community at large. A society less concern and inactive participation is the major challenge of community policing. Limited human resource for coordinating community policing activities, de motivated police officers, less attention given from government to the programme and turnover of police officers is also another challenge for community policing.
Community; Community policing; Crime; Crime Prevention
“Crime causes social, economic, health, and psychological effects on victims and society at large. It is a serious social problem that directly reduces the quality of life of individuals and the community” . To respond to this problem, societies have developed the polity as an institution where the police, among others, are recruited, trained and deployed. In support of this idea, Morgan stated, “the primary function of police is concerned with preventing crime and catching criminals” .
Traditionally, however, the maintenance of law and order in any society has usually been the exclusive role of conventional police and other law enforcement agents in the absence of active participation of the wider members of the community. During those days, the police not only faced difficulty in tackling crime but also criticized for unfriendly nature of the relationship with members of the public. This has enjoyed a wide coverage among scholars. Palmiotto, for example, stated that the police cannot succeed in solving or preventing crime without the assistance of the community. Thus to prevent crime successfully there must be community partnership and involvement. It was in reaction to this development that the concept of community policing was introduced.
Community policing is a paradigm shift established at the bedrock of community partnership in creating safe and secure environment for all. It is policing whereby the people take active part in their own affairs; the police are not seen as a problem or stranger whose presence stands for danger but as partners in development and those members of the community are co-producers of justice and quality police service. This fact indicates the need of involving the community, the local government and the police to work together to tackle crime. One rationale for public involvement is the belief that police alone can neither create nor maintain safe communities. Therefore, community policing has emerged as a major issue in the development of public safety for many countries in the world. For example, England , Singapore, Canada , Israel and Scandinavian countries i.e., Norweigian, Swedish, Danish, Finish, Finnish, have variously introduced some form of community policing by 2000. Community policing is a worldwide growth.
Despite the establishment of community policing and numerous efforts by various police administrations to curtail the level of crime in Ethiopia, crime and social disorder still persist in the country. With growing urbanization and national development, there are signs of complexity and multiplicity of criminal offenses and acts. Thousands of lives and millions of birr worth of property are being lost as a result of one crime or the other. As indicated below, in EGAZ, on average, hundreds of crimes have been committed (Table 1).
|S.N.||District/town administration||Overall crime statistics over the last seven years||Average||Total|
|3.||Enarge and enawga||272||254||325||286||323||212||224||270||1247|
Source: East Gojjam zone community policing crime prevention core process office, 2014.
Table 1: Crime rates of different districts in East Gojjam administrative zone.
Statement of the problem
The term community policing has a recent usage and appears to be increasingly popular around the world. It has received a widespread support from politicians, academics and the media. It has a strong intuitive appeal to the general public. This new terminology has multivariate definitions and thus it does not lend itself to easy conceptualization. There is, therefore, no unanimity of opinion on what constitutes community policing. However, community policing, or simply, policing with and part of the community originated in England, is both a philosophy (a way of thinking) and organizational strategy (a way of executing) that allows the police and the community to work together to solve problems of crime and disorder .
In any society the police interact with the communities they serve and the community relies upon the police to help in emergencies and curb disorder. The police rely on the community to report crime and provide important information that is necessary to address community concerns and solve crime. In recent decades, the scope of this relationship has expanded. The police and community have begun to expect more from each other as they increasingly realize they must actively work as partners. This form of collaboration has been referred to as community policing .
Community policing in Ethiopia was announced officially as a policy at the national level in 2005 but development of the approach had been ongoing for a number of years before it . In 2004 members of the Ethiopian Federal Police undertook community policing training provided by British trainers in Addis Ababa. Following this, some senior officers travelled to Europe to undertake further training and returned to sensitize colleagues about the community policing approach. This sparked an interest within the Federal Police and key individuals began to read more about the approach and to articulate how it could be shaped to help address the challenges faced in the Ethiopian context.
Amhara National Regional State (ANRS) is often cited as a model in community policing in Ethiopia. However, it is impossible to get statistics on its effectiveness in the region though its role in improving communities’ access to policing services, assisting in reducing crime and providing the state with more effective surveillance of the population is apparent. In Amhara, a regional community policing strategy was developed by the Amhara National Regional Police Commission in 2005 and, based on this; community sensitization was conducted about the importance of passing information onto police. Community policing training was integrated into Amhara Regional Police training (although this appeared to involve one lecture on community policing for officers). In 2010 this training was to be extended with the support of a Canadian police consultant who assisted the Amhara Police Commission in developing a new curriculum but it is unclear whether this curriculum has in fact been implemented. They have indicated the presence of 11 zones; 140 wored as and approximately 3,429 kebeles (In rural areas, usually the lowest administrative level but in urban areas with higher population density, can be further broken into centers, ketenas and blocks).Its overall structural organization in the region is shown as follows (Figure 1).
As a pilot, Community policing philosophy in East Gojam Administrative Zone was started in five districts; currently it is implemented in all districts of the zone. This has involved the creation of an implementation plan regarding community policing, giving workshop training for community policing officers, and police department heads and station commanders, including various parts of community and institutions. Furthermore, the establishment of community policing structure from household level (family police) to kebele community policing Advisory council has been taken as dare attempt to implement community policing in the study area.
Despite these attempts, there had been a huge number of diversified, complex and serious crimes recorded in the previous seven years in different districts of the zone (Table 1). In addition, report from the same source indicates that in some districts there has been an increase in crime in both the number of crimes committed and in their complexity. Furthermore, assessment of perceived and felt priority needs of the local community conducted by research and publication directorate of Debremarkos University in August 2014 vividly indicated limited motivation in crime prevention and limited proactive crime preventive activities by the community as number 4 and number 10 priority problems under social, governance and justice category respectively. Beyond this, there has not been any scientific research conducted on its effectiveness while the implementation of the philosophy of community policing has passed through more than eight years. At national level too, the study conducted by Denney and Demelash in Addis Ababa and Amhara region has entirely focused on Gondar and Bahir Dar cities.
It is on the basis of the above rational that this study attempts to contribute its part to assess the role, challenges and prospects of community policing in crime prevention.
The general objective of the study is to assess the contributions, challenges and prospects of community policing in crime prevention in selected sites of East Gojjam zone by addressing the following details.
• Identifying the practices of community policing in the selected research sites.
• Investigating the challenges of implementing community policing in the study areas.
• Assessing the role of community policing for crime prevention
• Assessing the attitudes of local residents and police officers towards community policing
Significance of the study
Community policing is widely regarded as one of the more significant recent developments in effective crime prevention strategies around the world. The concept has been widely discussed and applied in various countries and in a range of contexts, thus studying the effectiveness and challenges of community policing may contribute in providing viable experience and direction in fighting crime through community policing, understanding the challenges of community is directly related with working to reduce ever increasing crime rates in the region in general and the study area and the local community in particular.
Definition of terms and concepts
Community: Some conceive community as a geographic area and others look community as an area of common life. The following definitions shows the essence of community, According to UN office on drugs and crime, “community” can refer to small neighborhoods, areas within a city, or small villages or towns, or in some cases groups of citizens with particular concerns. In addition as Taye Kejia stated in his dissertation, ‘A community is defined as any group of people which is likely to have a number of characteristics in common such as, geographical area, occupation, ethnicity, economic status, shared government and a common cultural and historical heritage’. Moreover, as stated by Oliver, ‘community is the term that refers to a group of people who share three things: they live in a geographically distinct area (such as a city or town),they share cultural characteristics, attitudes and lifestyles and they interact with one another on a sustained basis. Thus, community could be understood as group of people sharing the same city, similar social class, having same culture, sharing the same objectives and have similar psychological makeup.
Crime: Crime is an illegal activity which causes physical or moral injuries on others. According to the Ethiopian criminology code of 2006, Article 23, sub article 1, crime is an act which is prohibited and made punishable by law (Ethiopia criminology code). Crime is the omission of a duty that makes the offender liable to punishment by law or a behavior that is prohibited, as well as behavior or an act that is required by law .
Crime prevention: Crime prevention is an attempt to eliminate crime either prior to the initial occurrence or before further activity. According to the NCPI, crime prevention is a practical method for the direct control of crime. It involves analyzing criminal attack methods and designing specific actions within the environments of potential victims to reduce criminal opportunities and manage the crime risk.
Community policing: Community policing involve the importance of active partnership between the police, civil societies and other agencies of government work together in identifying and solving problems to improve the overall quality of life as whole and crime prevention in particular. As stated by Deluca and Stone: Community policing is the desire to bring policing closer to citizens whose lives and property are supposed to be protected .
The Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA: 1994) states: ‘Community policing is democracy in action. It requires the active participation of local government, civic and business leaders, public and private agencies, residents, churches, schools and hospitals . All who share a concern for the welfare of the neighborhood should work together with police officers. The above-mentioned bodies must take a unified stand against crime, violence and disregard for the law and must make a commitment to increasing crime prevention and intervention activities.
It also helps to better understand the relationship between the police and the community they serve. For this reasons, the investigation of the concept and the practice of community policing has been a strong driver for this study.
The practices of community policing
In 1984, the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) was created to provide Federal leadership in developing the Nation’s capacity to prevent and control crime, administer justice, and assist crime victims (US Department of Justice 2001). OJP pursues its missions by forming partnerships with other Federal, State, and local agencies as well as national and community-based organizations to develop, operate, and evaluate a wide range of criminal and juvenile justice programs. OJP is dedicated to comprehensive approaches that empower communities to address crime, break the cycle of substance abuse and crime, combat family violence, address youth crime, hold offenders accountable, protect and support crime victims, enhance law enforcement initiatives, respond to terrorism, and support advancements in adjudication. OJP also works to reduce crime in Native-American communities, enhance technologies within the criminal and juvenile justice systems, and support State and local efforts through technical assistance and training.
The role of community policing for crime prevention
The lack of a concrete definition for community policing and vague measures of success has contributed to the difficulties in determining its effectiveness. In addition, the complex nature of community policing limits the ability to provide sufficient evidence of either success or failure. However, literature shows a number of benefits of implementing community policing. According to New Zealand Police, for example, the (perceived) benefits of community policing include: “improving police-community relationships and community perceptions of police; increasing community capacity to deal with issues; changing officers’ attitudes and behaviors; increasing perceptions of safety; and reducing crime, disorder and anti-social behavior”. Though it is not presented here, the literature details each benefit with concrete evidences.
Challenges of implementing community policing
Though community policing has a number of roles, such as indicated above, literature also shows a number of challenges for its implementation. Acknowledging identification of barriers by Carroll Buracker and Associates Ltd, the New Zealand Police, for example, discussed the four barriers: the police officer; the resident/community; police culture; and specialized units detailing them as follows:
Generally, implementation issues that have not been identified or resolved can affect the overall success of a community policing initiative. Indeed, a range of barriers to successful implementation could impact on the potential benefits of community policing. Some of the possible consequences of poor implementation include Lack of control, flexibility and tailoring at neighborhood level; not recognizing the historical lack of trust between police and certain communities; lack of good quality information about crime provided to communities.
More specifically, on the side of police officers, they may work independently of the community in identifying and solving problems; training in problem solving and community engagement can be neglected and community police officers may lack performance measures. On the part of the residents/communities, their ambiguity with different values and expectations; agencies promotion of conflicting values; ownership of problems often allocated to police rather than the whole community; low participation being affected by individualism and lack of social capital and limited community voice to the vocal minority.
With respect to the police culture, resistance to community policing is attributed to the perception it is a move away from traditional law enforcement practices to a ‘softer’ style of policing; the community can be disempowered when offering solutions if Police dominate as the crime and disorder experts. Indeed, Police are still reluctant to share information with the community. Other challenges also emanate from specialized units. As a result, isolation of officers can limit effectiveness while allocation of extra resources to community policing teams and special conditions of work can create internal friction.
Mixed research method which combines both qualitative and quantitative methods was employed in this study. Quantitatively, the study generally assesses the role, predicament and prospects of community policing. Qualitatively, it probes deep and investigates the views and opinions of both the members of the society and police officers on the program as a whole, its level of implementation and satisfaction it has brought and the level of program ownership among police officers and the community at large.
Ecology model was employed in this research as it enables to assess personal, interactional, and community factors for both the occurrence of crime as well as to understand the level of implementation of community policing.
Study area and period
East Gojjam Administrative Zone (EGAZ) has four administrative towns and sixteen districts (refer the table in page 2) . It has a total population of 2,153,937 with 99.82% of the ethnic groups being the Amhara. Located at 300 Kilometers North West of Addis Ababa, the town of Debremarkos is the capital of the zone.
In addition to being proximate to the researchers, EGAZ was selected for hosting low levels of participation and limited proactive prevention of crime by the community (research and publication directorate of Debremarkos University). More specifically; the current study was conducted in two administrative towns namely Debremarkos, and Dejen and two district of the zone namely Gozamen and Bibugn. Debremarkos town and Gozamen district were purposively selected for hosting the highest criminal occurrence rates while Bibugn district and Dejen town were also purposively selected for hosting lowest rate of criminal occurrence as measured by average criminal statistics of seven years since 2007 (refer to table on page 2).Using similar analogy, the specific kebeles of each study areas will be selected.
Motivated by significant difference of criminal rates within different districts and towns of EGAZ, this study is conducted to learn best practices from areas of low criminal rates and weaknesses of those with highest criminal rates as well as the role, challenges and prospects of community policing in the process. By assessing areas of low criminal cases, researchers will not only uncover factors for this but also learn strategies put in place by the concerned bodies as well as the role of community policing in the process while selection of those areas with the highest rates of criminal occurrences is also to identify the same issues and suggest the experiences of those with low levels of criminal occurrences. Taking this rational in choosing research sites, this study will be conducted from June to July 2015.
Sources of data
Both qualitative and quantitative data will be obtained from primary and secondary sources.
Secondary data: Literature related to the subject has been reviewed so as to identify gaps not filled by other researchers. Apart from its contribution to elucidate research problem, literature review helps to formulate theoretical framework and research methods. To this effect, secondary data has been collected focusing on the practice, roles, challenges and prospects of community policing in general from the electronically and non-electronically available published and unpublished sources (books, journal articles, research proceedings, theses, dissertations, magazines, and newspapers) and reports of national and international governmental and non- governmental organizations from libraries and websites. However, since relying only on secondary data cannot fully capture current realities, changes on the practice, roles and challenges of community policing in general and the same in EGAZ in particular, the use of primary data is imperative.
Primary data: Primary data for this study will be collected from research participants by using both quantitative (survey) and qualitative methods (in-depth interviews, and focus group discussions).
Household Survey: Survey is a research method employed to collect data from relatively large number of respondents using openended and closed ended questionnaire items that cover less detailed but wider aspects of the issue under investigation . Consequently, as this research aims to collect data from relatively large number of respondents, the use of this method in this research is imperative. By employing this method, the researchers aim to investigate the practice, challenges and prospects of community policing in the selected sites of East Gojjam Administrative Zone from a sample of respondents.
To collect data for the study, both closed and open ended questionnaire items will be developed and used. The open ended items will allow respondents to express their views about the philosophy, practice and challenges of implementing community policing while closed ended items were designed to address specific and factual issues related to it. The questionnaire will be prepared in English and translated into Amharic (national and regional working language) in order to make it easy for communication. In addition, questionnaire pre-testing will be conducted to make necessary modifications before its use for the actual study.
Survey design: In this research undertaking, the interest of the researchers is not to study the issue over a period of time. Rather the focus is to investigate it in a point in time but collect pertinent retrospective and prospective data to link its past practices, current situations and prospects. Hence, in this study, cross-sectional descriptive survey design, and approximating cross-sectional design with longitudinal design will be employed.
Survey population: “Survey population is the aggregation of elements from which the survey sample is actually selected”. Accordingly, all the residents of the four research sites indicated in the “study area section” above (Debremarkos, Gozamen, Dejen and Bibugn) are elements of survey population for this research. These districts and administrative towns are purposively selected to recruit research respondents. By extension, sampled residents of local community in all the research sites will be the sources of information for survey data in this study.
Sampling technique: In the “study area” section of this proposal, it is indicated that two study areas were selected for they experienced the highest levels of criminal occurrences while the other two were selected for their lowest levels of criminal occurrences. However, they are not the specific places to collect data. Since each of the purposively selected four research sites have different kebeles as the lowest administrative units, by the same sampling method used to select research areas, one kebele from each of the study area with their respective levels of criminal occurrences will be selected. And it is possible to find the actual list of residents of each research site from their respective districts and town administrations. Consequently, this research will utilize simple random sampling to obtain representative samples from each research sites. However, unwilling local residents, and those who are assumed mentally unstable or seriously ill/ unable to participate during the period of data collection will be excluded from the study. Summarized pictorial presentation of sampling procedures for the research sites is shown as follows (Figure 2).
From the above figure, one cans easily understand that the specific research sites (i.e., kebeles) were selected purposively after selecting the study areas (i.e., towns and districts. Purposive sampling was employed in a similar way that the study areas were used to be selected (i.e., on the basis on their criminal statistics rates).
Sample size: The size of population in Debremarkos, and Dejen towns and Gozamen, and Bibugn districts is respectively 62,497, 8700, 2584 and 6241. However, to determine the sample size using single population proportion formula is impossible for this study since research from which reference point can be based is not available. Furthermore, without contacting district level administrators it became difficult to obtain comprehensive data pertinent for this study from EGAZ. Because of this, researchers have devised a technique to take data on population size of each kebele to be selected (on the basis of statistical figures on crime rates), and then randomly select representative samples for each selected kebele based on table for Determining Minimum Returned Sample Size for a Given Population Size developed by Bartlett, Kotrlik, and Higgins (Table 2).
|Population Size||Sample Size|
|Continuous data (margin of error=0.03)||Categorical data (margin of error=.05)|
|Alpha=0.10, t=1.65||Alpha=0.05, t=1.96||Alpha=0.01, t=2.58||p=0.50 t=1.65||p=0.50 t=1.96||p=0.50 t=2.58|
Source: Bartlett, Kotrlik, & Higgins, 2001.
Table 2: Study area and period.
In order to supplement and triangulate data obtained from survey, an in-depth interview with two members of the kebele from each site totaling 8 interviewees will be conducted. These interviewees will be purposively selected based on their knowledge of the philosophy of community policing as suggested by the respective kebele level community policing officers. This will enable to uncover detail issues of mainly qualitative aspect on the subject using semi-structured interview guides to be developed for this purpose.
The philosophy of community policing stipulates that there must be one community policing officer to each kebele. Generally, three FGDs will be conducted in this research.
In order to supplement and triangulate data obtained from survey and in-depth interviews with community members, one FGD will be held with four community policing officers working in the selected kebeles and four additional randomly selected community policing officers from the research sites representing other kebeles totaling 8 discussants. Random selection of community policing officers was made with the rational that all of them have the same exposure to their respective sites. This will enable to uncover detail issues on the roles, challenges and prospects of community policing in general and its implementation challenges in the specific contexts of each kebele in particular.
The remaining two FGDs will be conducted with 10 members of the community in each of Debremarkos town and Gozamin District to unravel public views on crime, crime rates and the role of community policing in reducing the problem. FGDs will be purposively selected based on their knowledge/awareness of, and levels of participation in community policing as recommended by community policing officers.
Methods of data analysis
Before analyzing the collected data, it will be coded, edited, and sequenced. Summaries will also be made to avoid redundancy while narrating respondent‘s answers for qualitative data. This will be done after collecting the necessary data, and checking completeness of responses of all returned questionnaires, and verifying data collected using qualitative tools. This will lead to use a variety of methods (on the basis of the specific nature of the data) to analyze the data collected from different sources. Generally, quantitative statistical analysis will be made for data collected using survey using Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) version 20 while qualitative analysis (such as narration, thematic analysis, and likert scale scores) will be made for the data collected from qualitative tools (such as in-depth interview and focus group discussions).
Accordingly, sequential analysis of the data collected from both quantitative and qualitative tools will be made to give the essence of each data collected from different methods. However, so as to identify and strengthen implicit and explicit ideas within the data obtained from either quantitative or qualitative methods, there will be linkage and feeding of some of the most important data to one another. More specifically, detail description of how each objective can be analyzed using its core constituent variable was detailed as follows:
The first objective: Identifying the practice of community policingwill help to uncover the structural organization, staffing, strategies and philosophy of implementing community policing in each of the selected research sites. Such variables will be assessed against the structural organization, staff size and strategies set for the region using cross tabulation by SPSS.
The second objective: Assessing the role of community policing in crime prevention - will be collected using survey method. Issues such as crime rates before and after the implementation of community policing will be investigated; factors for both highest and lowest number of crime rates in the selected sites will also be understood and explained using spearman rank order correlation analysis.
The third objective: Investigating the challenges of implementing community policing in the study areas –will be collected from survey using open ended questions and in-depth interviews and FGD. This data are more of qualitative nature and hence analyzed using narrative description as per the themes of the raw data organized into different but relevant categories in accordance with the proposed objectives. In the process, irrelevant Information (if any) to the study will be omitted.
The fourth and final objective: Assessing the attitudes of local residents and police officers towards community policing- will be collected independently for the attitudes of local residents and police officers and analyzed using likert scale scores. This analysis will help to indicate the challenges and prospects of community policing by substantiating data analyzed using cross tabulation. Understanding and knowledge of the attitudes of the public will enable to make intervention projects prioritizing the benefits of the public.
This study collected data from four research sites: Debremarkos town, Dejen town, Gozamin district, and Sinan district. Both quantitative and qualitative methods were employed to collect data.
Demographic profile of the respondents
As to the demographic profile of the respondents, data were collected on the respondents’ sex and age categories as well as religious affiliations and educational levels. Each of them was described in this order as follows.
With respect to sex categories of the respondents, as indicated in the pie chart below, while 62.71% of the respondents constitute males, the remaining 37.29% of the respondents were females (Figure 3).
Data were also collected to describ age categories of the respondents. As indicated in the bar chart here under, the result shows that respondents in the age group of 27-32 constitute the highest proportion (28.81%) followed by those aged between 33-38, and 51and above who constitute 27.97% and 16.95% respectively. The remaining 0.847%, 8.475% and 9.322% of the respondents are found in the age caterories of 15-20, 45-50 and 39-44 respectively. Furthermore, it is found that a single respondent (0.847%) did not provide his/her answer related to age category (Figure 4).
Data were also collected on religious affiliations of the respondents. As it can be seen from a pie chart indicated in Figure 5 below, the result shows that while a significant majority (88.14%) of the respondents was followers of Orthodox Christianity, the remaining 7.63% and 3.39% were followers of Islam and Protestantism respectively. Furthermore, another 0.85% of respondents constitute those who did not indicate their answer to this specific question (religious affiliation).
Demographic data were also collected to understand the educational levels of the respondents. Accordingly, it is found that only 17.8% of the respondents were found to have certificate and above. The remaining 21.2%, 22%, 16.1% and 22.9% are illiterate, 1-4, 5-8 and 9-12 complete respectively. This is shown in the bar chart below (Figure 6).
The practice of community policing
To understand the practice of community policing, data related to when community policing was started in the respondents kebele; whether family police exists in the respondent’s houses; and respondents’ levels of agreement on the adequacy of community policing officers in their respective kebeles were assessed. Accordingly, the following results were obtained.
With respect to the question of when community policing started in the respondent’s respective kebeles, except one of the respondents who did not provide answer, all the surveyed respondents provided it. The result shows a mixed figure where a significant majority of the respondents (57.6%) indicated that community policing in their respective kebeles was started in or after 2004 E.C while the remaining 1.7%, 16.9%, 8.5% and 3.4% indicated that community policing in their respective kebeles was started in 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2002. Furthermore, 11.8% of the respondents do not know when community policing in their kebele started. These data can be seen from the table shown below (Table 3).
|Year community policing has started||Frequency||Percent|
|2004 and onwards||68||57.6|
|Do not know||14||11.8|
Table 3: When implementation of community policing started in your kebele?
Data were also collected to understand whether family police exists in respondents’ houses. Findings show that while only 26.3% of the respondents indicated the existence of family police in their respective family, the remaining 73.7% explained that their respective families do not have family police (Table 4).
Table 4: Respondents’ responses of whether family police exists in their houses.
Respondents’ levels of agreement on the adequacy of community policing officers in their respective kebeles were also used as a measure of the practice of community policing. Accordingly, on a four level likert scale respondents were asked to rate your levels of agreement or disagreement on whether there are adequate officers of community policing in their respective kebeles, their responses shows that while 39.8% at least agreed on the existence, a significant majority (60.2%) disagree or strongly disagree on the existence of adequate community policing officers (Table 5).
|Level of agreement/disagreement||Frequency||Percent|
Table 5: Respondents’ views on the adequacy of community policing officers.
What activities are done expected to implement community policing? Community policing needs discussion between society and police especially active participation is expected from each member of the resident. Assessing the potential crime areas is also another activity which is done in community policing. As we got information from almost in all research participants the structures formed in community policing strategy are not effectively working where close follow-up is required. But as Focus group discussants from gozamen police office strongly indicated that the number of community policing officers small in number in order to make strict supervision whether the structures in community policing are working on the theoretical formwork. On the other side even providing job opportunity to the unemployed is one activity done to minimize the potential crime rates. Identification of the potentials for cause of crime.
The practice of community policing as different respondents explained it varies in urban and rural area. FGD participants in gozamen district explained that the structure and way of implementing the strategy can vary greatly where in the rural area it is most effective and residents are effectively using to prevent crime and it helped them to develop their concern about their security. Whereas in the urban area due to the unstable nature of the residents and other constraints it is not effectively implemented as compared with the rural area.
Structure of community policing
CP officer is responsible to create the structures and he will give training and how they do? When do they give reports…Each structure has its own duties and responsibilities where all they structures are mainly formed and monitored by CP officer assigned in the town kebele. This shows that the officers are always with the society to follow these structures and on identifying the potential causes for crime and making the society more confident on their security issues. But as we got information from almost in all research participants the structures formed in community policing strategy are not effectively working where close follow-up is required. But as Focus group discussants from Gozamin police office strongly indicated that the number of community policing officers small in number in order to make strict supervision whether the structures in community policing are working on the theoretical formwork.
Challenges of implementing community policing
In an attempt to understand challenges of implementing community policing, in this research, issues related to the level of participation of community members in community policing activities; whether the culture of public disclosure of community policing has increased after its implementation; whether research participants as members of the society took community policing trainings and the frequency of these training offers; knowledge of community members on community policing and their views on their participation community policing activities were assessed. Findings obtained on each of these aspects were described as follows.
However, ahead of discussing the aforementioned issues related with challenges of implementing community policing, an attempt was made to examine whether there are challenges of implementing community policing. The result shows that while 48.3% of the respondents argued in favor of the existence of challenges for implementing community policing, the remaining 51.7% argued that there are no challenges in implementing it (Table 6).
Table 6: Challenges of implementing community policing.
With respect to the level of participation of respondents on community policing activities, on a five level rating scale, though 68% have responded of at least their good participation, the remaining 32% have indicated from poor participation to no participation (Table 7).
Table 7: Level of participation of Respondents on Community policing activities.
In regards with the culture of public disclosure of crime, the study found that while 40.7% of the respondents indicated no change on the subject, the remaining 59.3% responded as if the culture of public disclosure of crime was improved after the implementation of community policing program (Table 8).
Table 8: The culture of public disclosure of crime since the implementation of community policing.
As one measure of challenges to community policing, data were also collected on whether respondents have taken community policing trainings and the frequency of those trainings. In regards with the former, except 3.5% and 50.8% of the respondents who left answered to this particular question and who described of having took no training, the remaining 45.8% responded of taking community policing training (Table 9).
Table 9: Whether respondents took community policing training.
Similarly, in regards with the frequency of trainings, while 39.8% of respondents have reported of taking trainings only once, 11.9% and 6.8% responded of taking twice and three times in their lifetime. Yet, sizable number (41.5%) of the respondents has responded of having taken no training at all (Table 10).
Table 10: The frequency of trainings taken by the respondents on community policing.
Community policing trainings, in principle, should be provided not only to the members of the community but also to members of a given family. Data collected to examine whether this principle is materialized in the study areas or not indicates that while 16.1% of the respondents replied as their family members took community policing training(s), a significant majority (83.9%) of the respondents have replied of having no community policing training by their respective family members (Table 11).
Table 11: Whether family members take community policing training.
Relatedly, data was also collected to understand the number of family members who took community policing training (Table 12).
|The number of family members||Frequency||Percent|
|7 and above||3||2.5|
Table 12: The number of family members who took community policing training.
Knowledge of respondents’ family members on community policing is one of the essential elements affecting the implementation of community policing in any area. Data collected to understand this issue, in this study, shows that while 30.5% of the respondents reported that their respective family members have taken no training, 4.2%, 7.6%, 16.1% and 41.5% responded that their family members have excellent, very good, good and satisfactory knowledge on community policing (Table 13).
Table 13: Knowledge of respondents’ family members on community policing.
Data were also collected to understand participants in community policing activities. In regards to this, while only 1.7% of the respondents indicated residents as participants, 10.2%, 2.5% and 4.2% have reported of members of the police; kebele administrators and militia and other authorities as participants in community policing activities respectively. However, a significant majority (81.4%) of the respondents have suggested that all groups as participants (Table 14).
|Members of the police||12||10.2|
|Kebele administrators and Militia||3||2.5|
Table 14: Who participates in community policing.
Respondents were also asked to rate their views on participation in community policing activities. The result shows that while 21.1% have mentioned no participation, 13.6%, 21.2% and 40.7 have rated their participation as poor, good and very good (Table 15).
Table 15: Respondents’ views of their participation in community policing activities.
As important as respondents rating of their participation in community policing activities is whether they participated in community policing trainings and discussions. In regards to this, too, respondents were asked to rate whether they have participated in community policing trainings and/or discussions. The result shows that while 11% and 43.2% responded to be strongly agree and agree, 32.2% and 13.5% responded as they disagree and strongly disagree respectively (Table 16).
Table 16: Whether respondents took discussion and trainings on community policing.
One of the principles of implementing community policing is to increase public disclosure of crime. Whether implementation of community policing has been materialized this in the study areas, data were collected to understand respondents’ levels of agreement or disagreement on the contribution of community policing implementation in their disclosure of crime. Accordingly, this study found that while 11.9% and 47.5% of the respondents ‘strongly agree and agree on the role of community policing for increased public disclosure of crime, 31.4% and 9.3% of the respondents disagree and strongly disagree on the subject respectively.
Data collected from qualitative methods also showed that community policing officers took trainings. Yet, many have suggested its short term usually lasting from two to five days and irregular nature and of similar content for the last five or more years. Relatedly, community policing officer focus group discussants in Debremarkos town revealed that since they are not motivated to have educational opportunity, as they for other option, they will leave their position and new members will come and start the work as a new community policing trainees (Table 17).
|Degree of agreement||Frequency||Percent|
Table 17: Implementation of community policing versus public disclosure of crime.
In this study, researchers have also wanted to know whether new problems may crop up as a result of implementing community policing. A four level response rate was offered to respondents to indicate their levels of agreement or disagreement. The finding shows that while more that 38% of the respondents responded as they agree or strongly agree, the remaining more than 61% disagree or strongly disagree on the subject (Table 18).
Table 18: Implementation of community policing created new problems.
One of the possible challenges of implementing community policing is the extent in which members of the community participate in trainings and discussions voluntarily. Data collected to assess this showed that while 67.8% of the respondents responded as they agree or disagree, the remaining 31.2% rated as they disagree or strongly disagree respectively (Table 19).
Table 19: You participate in community policing trainings and discussions without any force.
In addition to the above quantitative data on the challenges of implementing community policing, researchers have also make use of qualitative data. The findings showed a number of challenges for implementing community policing philosophy in the study areas. One of these is lack of qualified human resource as police officers lacked skill on how to manage/handle, investigate and proactively prevent the potential occurrences of crime. Though advanced crimes were found to be committed in the study areas, almost none of community policing officers has computer skills. As one discussant in FGD held at Debremarkos town stated that “there is no any police who even now computer how is opened and closed”. It is also found that high level of turnover of police officers due to low salary and challenging nature of the work is the brainchild of very low incentive system as well as tiresome nature of the work.
It is also found that incentives for police officers for managing work is very low despite routine and tiresome work community policing officers perform for 24 h. Furthermore, though implementing community policing in rural areas was found very effective because the residents know each other; are homogenous and have stable nature of residence, in urban areas, it is found very challenging because there are unstable people coming and moving to towns including street children, university students, college students, daily laborers, prostitutes to list a few. Yet, it is also found that even in urban areas, community policing officers are not only engaged with other tasks but also become busy to implement community policing. For instance, officers are engaged with current tasks/activities to be done like meetings, sport race, new students arrival, students graduation ceremonies. Furthermore, while the work by itself is routine and very tiresome, no budget is allocated for the implementation of community policing programme; societal contribution for budget has variously challenged its implementation.
The role of community policing for crime prevention
To examine the role of community policing, data were collected on issues related to its role for crime prevention as well as other roles it may have played. With respect to the role of community policing for crime prevention, data were collected to understand the views of respondents on the role of community policing, whether community policing has reduced crime rate; to understand their levels of agreement about changes brought after the implementation of community policing, and other roles of community policing.
Many community policing officers defined community policing as the prevention of crime by the active participation of the society and the police which was previously viewed as the sole responsibility of the police. It has also increased the relationship between society and police officers where previously the two were seen as antagonistic.
In regards to the question on whether community policing has role for crime prevention, the finding shows that while 87.3% indicated its positive role, the remaining 12.7% said that it has no role (Table 20).
Table 20: The role of community policing for crime prevention.
Community policing is said to have a key role for crime reduction. To examine this hypothesis, data were collected from respondents to indicate their knowledge on the subject. As indicated in Table 20, the result shows that while 51.7% replied on its positive role to reduce crime, the remaining, 48.3% indicated that it did not reduce crime (Table 21).
Table 21: Respondents views on whether the implementation of community policing has reduced crime.
Similarly, data were also collected to examine the changes brought after the implementation of community policing. As indicated in Table 21, the result shows that while 33.9% of the respondents have indicated only lowest change brought after the implementation of community policing, the remaining 8.5%, 22.9%, 17.8% and 16.9% have rated the changes as low, good, very good and excellent respectively (Table 22).
Table 22: Respondents views on the changes brought after the implementation of community policing.
Community policing is also said to have functions which transcend crime prevention. In regards to this, data collected from respondents shows that while 56.8% of them replied that community policing also meets other functions, the remaining 43.2% argued that it has no additional function (Table 23).
|Frequency||Percent||Valid Percent||Cumulative Percent|
Table 23: Other roles of community policing in addition to crime prevention.
Data collected using qualitative methods also supports what is obtained from survey. While almost all of the interviewees and focus group discussants expressed the existence of challenges for implementing community policing in their respective kebeles, they explained it as an essential tool to minimize crime incidences. Many have also indicated their concern and feel secured after the implementation of this programme in their local area. They have also highlighted that the introduction of community policing has not only broke out the long lived exclusive view of considering crime as an exclusive task of police officers, it also minimized the number of crimes from year to year. As an additional role, implementation of community policing goes beyond identification of criminals to providing them with job opportunity and frequent advice and follow-up to change their livelihoods.
Attitudes of local residents and police officers towards community policing
The attitude of local residents and police officers about community policing was assessed. Focus group discussants in Gozamin district explained that residents are supporting the work of the police especially the rural area residents are actively engaging in community policing works. Supporting community policing officers by providing office materials, building houses and offices and cooperating with the officers to prevent crime. Especially in the rural area construction of houses for officers, material support and providing information when necessary is increased after the introduction of community policing. This collaborative work and active involvement of the community is one indicator of the resident’s positive attitude towards community policing.
The police officers despite they are working with a challenge and turnover of police officers is high they have a positive attitude towards the strategy where they stated the relevance and role of community policing to minimize crime occurrences
From the findings of this study the following major conclusions are made in line with the objectives. The old system of crime prevention, relationship between the police force and the society is changed with the coming and functioning of community policing. The philosophy of community policing as indicated in different literatures allows proactive prevention, collaborative work and developing sense of ownership of the society to security issues in general.
Community policing as a strategy for crime prevention is a collaborative work between the society and the police. To do this there are different structures formed and operating in the study area. In our study the implementation of this strategy as a pilot is started in the year 1999 E.C. Later it expanded in all wored as and city administrations of east Gojjam. Theoretical understanding and the real practices of community policing in the study are not the same where the strategy requires trained and skilled police officers who must organize and effectively mobilize the society to actively engage in their security issue. To the opposite in our study the police officers are not exclusively assigned and working to implement and follow the strategy. Most police officers especially in the urban area like Debremarkos town who are placed to the position of community policing are not working in their position instead officers are expected to do tasks which may not be related with the specific position they hold.
All research participants in this study strongly explained the role and significance of community policing on crime prevention. People’s level of consciousness and concern on crime issues has improved after the implementation of community policing.
A society less concern and inactive participation is the major challenge of community policing. In the philosophy of community policing the society is the main actor and without the involvement of the society the strategy cannot be functional. Limited human resource for coordinating community policing activities, de motivated police officers, less attention given from government to the programme and turnover of police officers is also another challenge for community policing.
The attitude of the police officers and the community about the programme was assessed in this study and officers explained that they have positive attitude towards the strategy despite they are working with full of challenges and problems. Officers strongly emphasized the continuity and relevance of community policing to overcome crime and to increase sense of security to the community. Especially in the rural part residents are effectively using this system to prevent the potential crime incidence and people actively engage on community policing discussions and they disclose when they saw crime incidence.
Based on the findings of this study the following recommendations are given:
To effectively implement the community policing, adequate number police officers in each area must be assigned. On job training must be given the police officers so as to update and scale up their knowledge and skill on crime management issues in general and community policing implementation in particular. Government and any concerned body must give emphasis to the programme. Enough budgets, fulfilling essential materials to officers is a must to implement community policing.
There must be a Police officer working only to implement community policing where double duty to a single police officer has an impact on the implementation and monitoring of community policing.
Traditional associations like Iquib, Iddir and mahiber must be used as one structure in community policing strategy sine accessing people is possible with these associations.
Mobilizing a society towards peace building and crime prevention must be consistent and should not be a one-time activity instead it must be done frequently and in organized and pre scheduled manner.
Community policing as a course must be given in police colleges in detail with maximum hour.
Debremarkos University due to its geographical proximity must work to strengthen the strategy by providing training to the police officers in order to fill the knowledge gap, conducting research to further strengthen the programme.