Building trust between police and public through community outreach programs

To develop trust and understanding between Afghan National Police (ANP) and the communities in which they serve, Ministry of Interior Affairs (MoIA) has started sports tournaments and community outreach programs in 15 provinces across the country

To facilitate better relations and greater cooperation between police and public, Afghan government has come up with many innovative initiatives. Besides enabling better police-public contact, these initiatives also seek to address the issue of rising crimes in society.

The Ministry of Interior Affairs (MoIA) recently launched “Radio Police” program to enable smooth communication between police and public in Kabul and adjoining areas.

Speaking at the launch ceremony, acting Minister for Interior Affairs, Ayoub Salangi said the main purpose of this program is to strengthen relations between police and public”. “The idea is to bring them closer so that they can together help in averting the incidents of violence and crime,” he said.

Radio Police program comes after MoIA’s 119 emergency helpline, which is already operational in six provinces across the country and has proved instrumental in thwarting small and big crimes. The 119 helpline was first started in 2009 in Kabul for public to receive and give information about emergency security issues.

The primary goal is to develop trust and understanding between police and people in reporting criminal activities to their respective ANP headquarters and the 119 Emergency Services Call Center 

The 119 helpline was designed to facilitate better ties between police and public and break the iron curtain between them. The public awareness about this helpline, however, was not helping the cause. In October 2014, Ariana TV and Awaz Production took it upon themselves to raise awareness about this program through as show called ‘Show Reaction 119’.

“The 119 helpline has proved immensely helpful in restoring our confidence and faith in security institutions, especially in the cases of emergency situations,” says Baseer Khan, a resident of Kabul. “Earlier, very few people knew about this program, but now a large percentage of people are aware of it and understand its importance.”

Jalaluddin, a resident of Kabul, says it has built a bridge between police and public and helped in thwarting many sinister plots of terrorists and criminals. “It is our duty as responsible citizens to cooperate with police in combating crime and terrorism,” he says.

As part of the Afghan National Police Community Outreach Program, the Afghan government has also started sports competitions in at least 15 provinces to pave ground for closer and stronger ties between police and community.

The primary goal is to develop trust and understanding between police and people in reporting criminal activities to their respective ANP headquarters and the 119 Emergency Services Call Center. Gen. Hikmat Shahi, a senior official in the Ministry of Interior Affairs, says the program has had a positive impact so far. The outreach program is conducted under the aegis of Sport Youth Development Organization (SYDP), which is funded by the U.S. Embassy in Kabul.

The 15 provinces where this outreach program is underway include Kabul, Kandahar, Helmand, Paktiya, Wardak, Khost, Nangarhar, Laghman, Logar, Panjshir, Kunduz, Faryab, Ghazni, Herat, and Baghlan. The outreach program is being conducted in coordination with the Ministry of Interior Affairs and consists of sports tournaments and interactive sessions between Afghan police and members of the local community where they serve.

“Afghan police has managed to foil many terror plots since this program has come into force, as it has allowed people to report directly to ANP headquarters through helpline number,” says Mr. Shahi.

​Radio Police program comes after MoIA’s 119 emergency helpline, which is already operational in six provinces across the country and has proved instrumental in thwarting small and big crimes

Zia Dashti, head of SYDP, says the chief aim of this program is to develop trust and understanding between Afghan Police and the communities in which they serve. “We have seen remarkable results over the past two years and this year we have expanded it further,” says Mr. Dashti. “It includes sports training and community outreach events, which can help people and police develop strong bond.”

Sediq Sediqi, spokesperson in the Ministry of Interior affairs, says these programs are very effective in forging strong people-police ties. “We want our policemen to be physically sound, and we want cooperation from people in making this program a success across the country,” says Mr. Sediqi. “We are planning to extend it to other provinces as well.”

Farkhunda Arezo, who participated in a volleyball tournament organized by SYDP recently, says she is happy to have participated in it. “These sports competitions are always fun-filled and it also enables people and police develop trust and understanding,” she says.

In the final match of the tournament between Red Cross and Kabul Municipality, former emerged as the champion.

The officials in the Ministry of Interior Affairs say they plan to organize more sports tournaments in future across the country and involve more youth.

“We are seeing the results, like one female participant from western Kabul called police a few days ago and informed about a case of theft in her neighborhood,” says Mr. Alimi. “So, it is encouraging for them as well.”