Academic journal article African Journal of Criminology and Justice Studies : AJCJS

Alternative Approach to Policing in Nigeria: Analyzing the Need to Redefine Community Policing in Tackling the Nation's Security Challenges

Academic journal article African Journal of Criminology and Justice Studies : AJCJS

Alternative Approach to Policing in Nigeria: Analyzing the Need to Redefine Community Policing in Tackling the Nation's Security Challenges

Article excerpt


From the beginning of the 1980s, there is no doubt that community policing as security management approach has become a "buzz-word" in policing circle, replacing such terms as police-community relations, team policing, and problem oriented policing. However, to date, community policing is still an elusive term meaning different programs and approaches to different police departments. Despite the foregoing, many countries of the world have continued to adopt community policing to meeting their different security needs. The complexity of the contemporary security challenges like increasing transborder crime, terrorism, human trafficking, armed robbery, homicide, to mention a few, overwhelms the public security sector as many governments have subscribed to the need to extend the security sector to include private security providers and the citizens. Hence, building a cordial relationship between the police and the public has become sacrosanct to effective security management in any community, rationalizing the growing relevance enjoyed by community policing as alternative security policy framework to address growing security challenges.

In recent times, many governments have realized that they can no longer monopolize the business of security in local domains as well as the world at large. This opinion has led to extending the security community to include private players (in security business), NGOs and above all, the civilians take the center stage in security management (Kasali, 2010). Since the 1990s, the attention of the world population has shifted to redefining security and looking for the best approach that could guarantee effective security management, different from the traditional ones that had failed to address the increasing security threats. The search for the best approach led to the emergence of the community policing approach.

Historically, community policing as a concept originated from the United States in the 1970s as a philosophy and tactic of policing to integrate the public into police institution, not as police personnel but as collaborators in the security affairs of the nation for optimal efficiency and responsiveness (Wong, 2009: 2). Indeed, this approach advocates for a paradigm shift. Rather than leaving entirely the job of policing to state and police, people are more than ever tasked to play a lot of complementary roles in the security affairs of their communities. Therefore, it is not the function of the state (or government) to determine security imperatives for the people but it is the people who should have the final say in deciding their own security. It is against this background that many governments of the world have begun to adopt community policing for effective security management.

Conceptualizing Community Policing

Despite the increasing popularity enjoyed by community policing, one of the basic challenges confronting law enforcement agencies has remained a problem arising from inability to appropriately define the concept of community policing. The reason for the conceptual problem can simply be as a result of the philosophical values that underlie the concept, which make it remain different things to different people.

Indeed, the term philosophy, among other things, is defined as the set of values of an individual or culture (David, 1979), or personal attitude (Morehead & Morehead, 1981), which may be responsible for the conceptual problem adorning the term community policing. For instance in Nigeria, according to DFID, majority of the police personnel and most members of the public seem to perceive community policing as an approach of engendering better relations between the police and community, and seen to be "managed through a departmental function, rather than a policing philosophy that is focused upon providing best quality service and therefore should inform each and every police activity"(DFID, 2000: 12).

In fact, not until 1992 that clearer conceptualization of community policing began to dominate the literature. …

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