The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Ministry of Interior Affairs (MoIA), through its Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) project, implemented the first-ever ‘Enhancing Police and Community Partnership’ training for qualified Afghan National Police (ANP) officers from the 19 Police Districts (PDs) of Kabul city from 10th to 12th April 2021. The workshop equipped the officers with the necessary skills for community outreach and trust-building. Participants gained enhanced understanding of how to secure community cooperation. Consequently, this training will improve the safety and security in the concerned PDs.
The idea for the Enhancing Police and Community Partnership Training Project came about as a result of a community consultation organized in December 2020 as requested by the communities. 50 officers received training on Social and Behavioral Change and Communication and on MoIA’s community and police strategies to gain trust and increase confidence between communities and police.
The Police-e-Mardumi Directorate officers received the training in local languages and through a participatory approach. The training components included, but were not limited to: Social Behavior Change Communication Models, Problem-based Analysis, Crime and Violence prevention approaches. The training also provided an excellent opportunity for the officers to strengthen collaboration through sharing experiences regarding community-oriented policing with colleagues in other PDs.
This training is envisaged as a first step towards building the PD officers’ capacity to take the lead on rolling-out community safety and security activities beyond 2021. The workshop was crucial in establishing a sustainable partnership between police and the community. In the long term, it is expected that the training will enable both community and police to identify the key indicators of crime and violence and find local solutions as a response. Based on the recommendations from the PDs, UNDP will develop demand-driven community policing efforts led by the MoIA.
“There are lots of good tools and training methods used in the three-day workshop, and I am keen to undertake such community and police initiatives at the PD level,” said Captain Rohullah, one of the participants and PD 12 Deputy Police Commander.
“Community policing is not a separate unit, but it is a concept that all of ANP should be professional and community-oriented” he added.
The training project has three phases: community consultation through the trained officers and tackling crime and insurgency in these respective police districts. The project will reach 2,850 communities of Kabul through several inter-linked activities under Enhancing Community and Police Partnership initiatives. The trained officers will lead community policing efforts in the 19 PDs of Kabul.
The MoIA’s Director-General for Strategic Communication, Hamid Arsalan, emphasized the importance of a cascading training model implemented by ANP and integrating the concept of Community Policing into the work of ANP in Kabul PDs. “Building trust between ANP and communities is a strategic priority for the Ministry of Interior Affairs,” he explained. “You’re the change agents, and the representative of government at the district level.” he added.
“The first impression a citizen will look at is the behaviour of police.”
The Director General of Community Policing, Major General Juma Adel, praised UNDP and donor communities for being receptive to the ANP’s training needs. Stressing the benefits of this training, he stated that, “the three-day training will help build the social and behavioural change approaches of the ANP in dealing with communities.”
Two decades of internal conflict resulted in the Afghan police behaving as a para-military force rather than a service-oriented institution. Over the past years, the ANP has received support in establishing community links and enhancing public perception. The police force is among the bottom-most levels of governance in any society. It has the closest connection to the community through its daily interactions with the population it serves. Not enough attention was given to equipping ANP with required social and behavioural changes, and the necessary skills to create a logical progress on counter insurgency to community-policing.
With generous funding from the LOTFA donors, the Community-Oriented Policing Services (COPS) project builds and expands on proven methods of improving relations between police and local communities in Afghanistan with the objective to improve the delivery of police services at the community level. This is expected to improve security within communities, resulting in improved public trust towards the rule of law and security institutions. The project will initially focus on the Provincial Headquarters and Police Districts in Kabul.