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The current drive by the Dominica Police force to establish a strong “community policing” component is timely, necessary and promises to yield substantial benefits for the nation.

In the past, communities tended to leave crime fighting almost entirely up to the police, but times have changed. Crime has become more pervasive and sophisticated, requiring a more broad-based response from police and society. It is now imperative that law-abiding residents of each town, village and community become more vigilant and active in the fight against crime and interact more closely with the police.

There is ample evidence of an insidious rise in crime in Dominica. There is a marked increase in violent crime and the emergence of new types of crime; crimes like drug dealing, money laundering and internet scams were unknown in former times. Today’s children are exposed to more crime and violence than any generation in recent memory. It is essential that citizens and police join forces to fight crime on every front, from neighborhoods to homes.

Members of the police force must do everything in their power to encourage citizens to redouble their own efforts to reduce crime in their communities. They must liaise with citizens to establish a culture of judicious discernment of and reporting of crime in each neighborhood, as well as relentless advocacy of community programmes to alleviate social problems that create the breeding grounds for crime.

Citizens must be encouraged to move away from their reliance on the police and government to lead the way in fighting crime. Law-abiding citizens can take responsible actions themselves to prevent increasing crime in society. With appropriate guidance and support from police, they can organise themselves into groups and by their collective efforts make significant headway by establishing new limits on crime in their own communities.

Specifically, law-abiding persons in all neighborhoods can raise their communities’ awareness of potential sources of violence and crime. They can spread the word about these sources and campaign strenuously against them. The primary objective would be to get a community commitment to rooting out crime in all its forms. By banding together and with the support of the police they can detect and prevent crime
in its embryonic stages.

Maximum community policing awareness can be the launching pad for the creation of a crime-free environment for each family in each community. By community policing efforts, families can make their homes safer. They can identify crime sources that are specific to their communities and work collectively to eliminate them. The police can develop a more meaningful rapport with such communities, enabling them to get greater information and intelligence about crime and function more effectively.

Through community policing initiatives, households and communities can become more vigilant against crime by themselves, in a reasonable and balanced manner. By their involvement in community policing, citizens can establish guidelines and mechanisms for effective crime fighting. They can create neighborhood networks to detect and respond to crime. By collective vigilance they can more easily and effectively uncover and deal with crime.

Community policing provides citizens with an excellent opportunity to make a more direct contribution to the fight against crime and it also enhance the capacity of the police to do their work. The public should give community policing their wholehearted and unreserved support.

This article was published in the editorial section of the Chronicle Newspaper – Issue: August 1st, 2008.

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