1 May 2019, Bishoftu: IGAD Security Sector Program (IGAD SSP), with support from the European Union Trust Fund (EUTF) through the Austrian Development Agency (ADA) under the IPPSHAR program, today opened a three days high level training on Community Engagement in Preventing and Countering Serious and Organized Crime for all IGAD Member States.
The role of communities in preventing and controlling crime has become prominent. Defining community and thereby community engagement is subjected to contexts. For the purpose of this training, communities can be defined as group of people or institutions working with people in a given territory such as neighborhoods, associations, schools or worship places.
Community engagement takes different forms, approaches and hierarchies. In the context of crime prevention and control, Police are expected to enable the community and its members to empower them to participate by sharing power and assure them that their voice will influence decision and affect action within the legal and policy framework. Community’s trust towards the law enforcement agencies and the positive network and interaction between community members is necessary for effective engagement; otherwise they can be the source of crime risk rather than solution. IGAD Member States have applied various forms of community engagement in their social and governance policies as well as crime prevention and control. It is with this background in mind that this training program was organized.
The training was officially opened by Commander Abebe Muluneh, Director of IGAD Security Sector Program (IGAD SSP). Commander Abebe welcomed all the participants and expressed his appreciation to the Government of Ethiopia for hosting. In his welcoming remark, he emphasized on the major differences of what crime is or should mean that law enforcement agencies are trying to control through reactive and responsive methods. He highlighted that “adequate solution for crime related problems must be on community participation and citizens’ involvement”. In addition, he stated that “we have to recognize that the importance of ‘horizontal’ and ‘vertical’ dimensions of social relations in communities that are crucial elements for crime prevention in communities”. He further stressed that “community engagement and community-oriented policing initiatives should be tactfully and carefully tailored to the local conditions and cultures, as well the State’s legal system”.
About 45 representatives from all IGAD Member States drawn from different institutions such as the Police, Judiciary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, CSOs, Ministry of Interior, and Ministry of Defense are participating in this training. Regional experts are expected to share their experiences and facilitate the training through interactive discussions, case studies, and group work exercises to bring about the required result of the training.
The overall objective of the training is to strengthen Member States’ capacity to address serious and organized crime by enhancing the understanding of community engagement in preventing and controlling serious and organized crime. Specifically, the training aims to conceptualize community engagement in the context of crime prevention and control, discuss and identify implementation and operationalization issues, community policing theories, describe behaviors and ethical standards of policing, and identify way forward on how to alleviate the challenges to implement effective and sustained community engagement.