Monday, November 15, 2010

Liaison efforts can bring police closer to the people

EARLY this year, the papers highlighted the issue of gangsterism in schools.
One of the reports featured a comment by a police spokesperson on crime prevention in schools.
The spokesman said police liaison officers would continue to visit schools regularly to interact with students and teachers to stop students from getting involved in gangsterism and other crimes.
The spokesman also said officers from either the nearest police station or the district headquarters carried out such visits once a month.
I had the opportunity to attend a PTA meeting a few weeks back.
Among the recurrent issues discussed was how to get in touch with a police liaison officer.
The school had not been able to benefit from the attention of a police liaison officer for a little more than a year and the teachers and PTA are at their wits’ end.
Although there had been no major crime in the school, the school authorities were concerned about its students’ safety.
Some time ago, the school’s security guard was threatened by some youths with a parang because they were told not to disturb the students.
Fortunately, nothing serious developed.
The PTA chairman said he had been to the local police station several times to meet with the liaison officer but without success.
He related how he was asked to “come back later” because the officer-in-charge was not around.
The PTA chairman said he went back three times, at different times of the day, but failed to meet with the officer.
Having liaison officers visit schools is a commendable effort that can help nip crime in the bud.
It is also a good way for the police to feel the pulse of the community it is entrusted to protect.
Having regular meetings with teachers and parents can provide vital information on the social health of the neighbourhood, too.
Where manpower shortage is concerned, the extra pairs of eyes do come in handy for the police.
In fact, why stop at having liaison officers for schools? Why not extend it to residents’ associations as well? Not many people I know will casually talk to policemen about their concerns for their neighbourhood although many people would not hesitate to blame the lack of police presence if crime rate soared.
Some even stop talking to the neighbours when they realise that the latter are policemen.
While we cannot help having people who prefer not to “get involved” around, I think the majority of those who love peace and security would welcome police liaison officers in our neighbourhood s.
Liaison efforts also bring the police force closer to the people. Right now, it is something the police could do with, I think.

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