The Police in Anambra State, Southeast Nigeria have said they were adopting the Community Policing Strategy in order to effectively combat cultism, armed robbery, housebreaking and other criminal activities this Christmas and New Year festivals season.
Yuletide, the period before Christmas and New Year, is usually characterised by an increase in crime rate.
Community Policing is a new policing concept which allows partnership between the police and the community in crime fighting.
On Monday, December 14, the Anambra Police Command flagged off a sensitisation campaign on Community Police to activate and operationalise the policing model ahead of the yuletide.
Under the arrangement, the police allow the community to act as their eye in the neighbourhoods in crime prevention and tracking.
The event attracted participants from the State Government, Anambra Vigilance Group (AVG), traditional institutions, community leaders and security agencies.
John Abang, Commissioner of Police in Anambra said the 325 newly recruited Special Constabulary in the state would add great value to the security architecture of the state.
Abang said the police had recovered the Anambra public space in the aftermath of the violent #ENDSARS protest in the month of October and were poised to ensure maximum security of lives and properties in the state.
He commended the Anambra State Government for being the first to domesticate the community policing system since it was launched in Enugu in July this year.
The CP recalled that Anambra has been practising Community Policing through the active collaboration of the Police and the AVG, adding that the initiative had made the state the safest in Nigeria.
“It is our goal to cascade the initiative to all nooks and cranny of the state, we want the effective demonstration of the mantra that police is everyone’s business,” Abang said.
On his part, Reverend Father Celestine Aniofor from the Catholic Archdiocese of Onitsha said the security situation in the commercial city had become an issue of serious concern.
Aniofor who represented Most Reverend Valerian Okeke, the Archbishop of Onitsha said the people no longer move freely with personal belongings like bags and wristwatches for fear of having their hands or arms cut off by thieves.
He called on the police to deploy security men to churches and other worship centres to provide protection during service.
Meanwhile, logistics and effective communication have been identified as major challenges of the model.
This was why, Alex Onukwe, Chairman of Association of Anambra State Town Unions (ASATU), the umbrella body of President Generals of all communities, called on the state government to provide more operational vehicles for community vigilance groups.
Onukwe said the operational vehicles of community vigilance groups are old and needed upgrading and replacement.
He pledged the communities’ commitment to continue to strengthen their roles in the Community Policing partnership by nipping crime in the bud and giving timely information.
“We need timely and useful information, in the last recruitment where 500 youths were needed we could hardly produce 300 because the information came in the morning that they were supposed to go to Rivers State for training in the evening,” Onukwe said.
Willie Obiano, Governor of Anambra State who declared the event open, reiterated his administration’s commitment to keeping the state safe for residents.
Obiano, who was represented by Nkem Okeke, his deputy, assured those coming home for Christmas to feel free while assuring that his administration would do all that was necessary to make the community part of the success story in the state.