Early Warning and Early Response (EWER)
Posted in February 2017
George the Police Officer: A Success Story in Gaining the Trust of Local Communities
There is no official police presence based in Kiambiu, Nairobi, though from time to time police officers from neighboring Eastleigh, home to a large number of Somali immigrants and refugees, will patrol the area. George is the officer-in-charge of the Eastleigh Patrol Base and is also responsible for policing in Kiambiu.
Kiambiu and neighboring Eastleigh are areas of high insecurity which provide fertile grounds for gangs to operate and illegal immigrants to avoid state detection. Since 2014, when cartels began using Somali immigrants to smuggle in illegal small arms, the Kenyan government has tightened vigilance against Somali immigrant communities.
However, it is difficult to improve community safety through policing alone. Widespread mistrust of the police makes it difficult for law enforcement to gather intelligence and locals will at times hide suspects rather than hand them over to the police. Due to poor infrastructure planning, the area also has many escape avenues which makes it easier for criminals to evade law enforcement.
In order to tackle these problems, JCCP has created a platform in which police officers and other stakeholders gather monthly to discuss local security issues. For George, these dialogue participants are important sources of information. George and the members of his police force ensure that the information that is provided to them is treated with the strictest confidentially in order to protect these sources.
George explained the work of his police force in detail to local community members at one such community forum hosted by JCCP. As a result, dialogues such as these, George has slowly gained the trust and understanding of local community members. “Local citizens now actively engage in the security matters affecting their community,” said George, who says he has felt a shift in the attitudes of members of the local community. By cooperating with community members and other local stakeholders, police can gather intelligence information that they were previously unable to obtain. “We have managed to arrest three gangs that had been hiding in the area because of information provided by local community members,” George announced proudly.
Thanks to success stories like these, George has also suggested holding security sessions with local school children, believing that educating children on what to do if they find themselves in similar situations would be an effective way of improving local security.
George continues to work towards building better and safer community in Kiambiu.
George participating in a meeting