Need for new community policing model - Felix
August 14, 2004
There is need for a new model of community policing to assist the law enforcers in the fight against crime, and for better police public relations, says Police Commissioner Winston Felix.
"The pressure is on for the police to leap from 1980 to 2006 where every police should be a public relations officer simply by how he/she performs his duties," he said.
Felix was speaking at what was billed as a public lecture on Monday evening at the Lion's Den, Enachu Street, Campbellville. The occasion was expected to be an interaction between the police commissioner and the public, but owing to the late notice the meeting turned out to be an impromptu press conference as journalists outnumbered the few members of the public.
Felix focused on the public relations aspect of the force, noting that the police have come from the public, their work is as a result of the public and it is necessary that people from the community police within their areas. This is important, the top cop said, because police are supposed to be familiar with the community in which they are expected to solve problems.
He said too that the police have to interact with the public in their various situations as victims and suspects, the abused as well as the abusers, and as protestors and those protested against. Therefore, he contended, the police must cause the wheels between them and the public to roll smoother.
The commissioner emphasised that history has shown that where the public and the police do not interact, friction, misunderstanding, and misrepresentation occur. "If the two sides can come together to face one enemy then better things can result."
This makes public relations so important and in that regard, Felix said, "I am seeking to have some public relations training instilled, since you cannot ask people to do a job and don't prepare them to do it."
The police force's ability to interact with the media can be improved, the commissioner conceded, adding that one of the best sources of information is the media. He noted, however, that over the last few months he has had little to complain of in terms of the media.
Meanwhile, the commissioner advocated that in order to further improve the image of the force, the police ought to play a greater role in schools, especially with regard to violence in such institutions.
The force already has the DARE (Drug Abuse Resis-tance Education) programme in schools, he said, but the violence needs to be addressed and by getting involved in the schools the police could assist by dealing with particularly aggressive youths.
These young people would get to know and understand the police and if the force were able to convert one child from involvement in a life of crime, Felix said, the force would have made a contribution to society.
Felix also said that he would like to see the day when representatives from a community can get together with a designated officer from a particular station and discuss their problems. Then they could meet later to review what progress the police would have made in respect of the various problems.
The police, he added, would gain more if the public should use such methods since the police service comes about because the public needs it.