Locally Initiated Community Policing

Locally Initiated Community Policing post thumbnail image

Foto: Polisia Komunitaria Timor-Leste

This blog update highlights the partnership between local community leaders and 6 PNTL District Commanders to establish Community Policing (CP) programs in four districts within Timor-Leste. Tailored to the security situation in each respective district, the CP program provides an excellent model for conflict-prevention implemented by police and community members working cooperatively. To date, Community Policing (CP) has been established in the districts of Maliana, Aileu, Liquisa, and Viqueque.
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The CP program in Liquisa is officially titled “Volunteer Service”, while the district of Viqueque refers to its program as “Popular Security”.
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Maliana and Aileu have also established a Community Policing Council (CPC), comprised of local PNTL commanders and community leaders. Although these districts operate their CP programs under different names and with slightly varying methods, each model has been successful in increasing community involvement in local security. Additionally, CP implementation has been successful in reducing land disputes, domestic violence, political disturbances, organized crime, and youth violence.

In addition to crime prevention, the Community Policing Council (CPC) reports local security concerns to the government. These concerns could include rising unemployment, human trafficking, traffic safety, and any other issues that could affect the security of the community. The CPC also plays an integral information-dissemination role, sharing critical information with the community that may encompass more than the normal range of security sector issues, such as dengue fever prevention or fighting hunger. Community Policing (CP) in Timor-Leste has proven to be a powerful and successful ground-level initiative to empower communities, reduce crime, and facilitate cooperation between community members and the PNTL. In November, FM launched a community-based workshop in Viqueque to support its CP program and facilitate a discussion on best implementation practices.

The workshop was organized in conjunction with PNTL District Commanders and was attended by 108 community leaders. Despite the fact that multiple stakeholders -including district community members, PNTL commanders, and Civil Society Organizations – have enthusiastically embraced the Community Policing initiative, government leaders in Dili have provided zero legislative or funding support to date.

FM recommends that government leaders in Dili pay greater attention to Community Policing initiatives.
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Given the success of these programs, the government should invest in Community Policing and provide further support through the passage of relevant legislation and policies. Ensuring the sustainability and successful implementation of this initiative will go a long way in supporting locally implemented conflict prevention in Timor-Leste.

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