Police stay with people. Four stories about efficient safety cooperation

Since the beginning of the reform, the new National Police of Ukraine has announced its commitment to the community policing approach, which is used by the law enforcement officers in many world countries such as Germany, the United States, the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, Belgium, and others.

The essence of this approach is that the police focus on the problems and needs of specific communities, based on their expectations and security requests.

At the same time, the community members also assume partial responsibility as they timely inform the police about crimes or suspicious activity, willingly act as witnesses, point the police to the problems of the district or town, take care of their own homes, etc.

This approach also involves the active role of local authorities: they bear responsibility for building safe infrastructure (lighting, pedestrian crossings, etc.), as well as safety policy-making.

Why does it work? The community policing is effective because the police cannot solve the safety problems on their own.

For instance, the proper functioning of the regulated railway crossing is a safety issue beyond the police competence.

Community policing means searching for local solutions to local problems. This creates mutual trust between the police, the community members and the local authorities.

In Ukraine, this approach was presented on April 13 last year, but the activities related to its implementation were carried out even earlier.

The Ukrayinska Pravda. Zhyttia Ukrainian online newspaper has collected four stories about how cooperation between the police and the community has given rise to important changes.

SAMBIR, STARYI SAMBIR, LVIV REGION

Even before the first squads of the new police appeared in Kyiv, the patrol police groups of rapid response had started to operate in Lviv region.

The local police officers, along with the activists, analyzed the challenges and found out that people tended to call the police at night, when there were fewer officers at the station.

As a result, the local police officers had to respond to all types of crimes: from boozing in the yards to murders. At the same time, the victims had to wait several hours or even days for a law enforcement officer to arrive.

Of course, such circumstances do not promote the confidence in the police.

"People complained about the poor work of the police. After the Maidan protests, the residents of Lviv region became more active, they demanded that the police change," explains Yuri Hladun, the Chief of Staff of the Main Department of the National Police in Lviv region.

A complete reorganization of work of the police departments helped to resolve the problem.

The rapid response patrol groups were formed on the basis of some departments. It takes these groups 2 minutes to get to the scene of crime within the town and 20 minutes – within the district.

The first such groups began to work in the town of Sambir, later – in the town of Staryi Sambir, and then throughout the region. Now, according to the police, 60% of the personnel in the region work on the streets.

"When the people see a police car riding along the streets, they become more disciplined," assures Vitaly Kiman, a representative of the Sambir district council.

The police explain: the efficient response of patrol police groups allows not only stopping the wrongdoing in a timely manner and saving people, but also saving valuable time when a crime has already happened. If the law enforcement officers arrive on time, they can find an offender hot on the heels.

"Earlier, people did not address us because there were three options: it might take a long time for the police to come, the police might not come at all or it would have been much better if they had not come," emphasizes Serhiy Hryvniak, the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Main Department of the National Police in Lviv region.

The reform helped to reduce the load on the district police officers: now they should not work overtime, responding to all the reports. Their main task now is to study the situation on the ground and work with the population.

Over the period of the reform implementation, the number of calls to the police in Sambir district has increased by 87%. The law enforcement officers believe that this tendency confirms the effectiveness of the reform.

Later, it was decided to conduct an opinion poll on security needs. The results struck the police and the local authorities: for example, people are more concerned about the problem of drinking alcohol in public places than about the problem of murders.

"We received unexpected results. It turned out that safety for people means street lighting, pedestrian crossings, sidewalks and installation of CCTV cameras," says Kiman.

Subsequently, a similar poll was conducted in Staryi Sambir district.

"Every district has its own specifics. For example, the timber logging is a very topical problem for Staryi Sambir district. The trees are illegally cut down, and the rain of any intensity can provoke floods here," says Tetiana Terletska, the Chairwoman of the Staryi Sambir District Council.

The responses of the residents of the districts as well as the views of the police and the experts formed the basis of the safety programs. They provided the action plans for the police, the local authorities, the schools, the transport companies, the municipal services, etc.

Unfortunately, such an initiative collapsed in the towns Sambir and Staryi Sambir. According to Oleh Ilkiv, the head of the legal department of the Center for Legal and Political Studies "Seven", the local authorities refused to cooperate with the activists.

Instead, this practice is already being used in other cities. For example, Chernihiv adopted its own safety program.

BAR, VINNYTSIA REGION

The opinion poll was also conducted in the town of Bar in Vinnytsia region.

The activists of the Expert Center for Human Rights conducted a sociological study, which showed that the local residents are mostly concerned about the problems of public services and amenities (i.e. stray dogs, litter and pop-up retail).

Thus, the idea arose to create the municipal watch, which would help the police to deal with minor offenses.

At the same time, the activists began to promote the idea of ​​joint patrols of the police and the community groups.

Such activities were common for the town of Bar, so it was decided at the joint meeting of local residents, district police officers, representatives of local authorities and chairpersons of the neighbourhood committee to renew this initiative.

"We met with residents of our district and explained them what they should do when they see someone drinking alcohol on the street," Ihor Kozak, the head of the Honcharna Street committee in the town of Bar, comments on the meeting.

The first joint patrol of the police and the public took place few weeks after the meeting.

In addition, local residents, police officers and council member agreed to install two bulletin boards to share the information about situation in the town.

"Our goal is to form people’s respect for the law," say the municipal watch members. There are four of them. They patrol the town streets together with the police on the weekends and go out on the streets independently on the weekdays.

The work of the municipal watch is financed by the town budget.

The members of community groups also patrol the town streets from 6 pm to 2 am every day except Monday on a voluntary basis.

The members of the town council also sometimes join the patrols. As deputy mayor of Bar town Oleksiy Holubkov claims, the people can better understand the problems of their constituencies in such a way.

For example, during one of the patrols, the activists found out that the town residents experienced the problems with the removal of dry leaves in the autumn. Since the community services removed the leaves rarely, people burnt the leaves on their own, provoking fires. After that, the local authorities adopted a new removal schedule, and the problem was solved.

The stray dogs were another problem that has been discovered through communicating with residents. As the majority of residents consider stray dogs to be the biggest safety threat, the mayor has identified the construction of a shelter as a priority. Construction is planned to be completed this year.

VINNYTSIA

The work of a police officer means a constant communication with all the members of the community.

However, how can a police officer communicate with those who speak different languages?

The infrastructure of the city of Vinnytsia is friendly and accessible for the people with disabilities, so the law enforcement officers may often meet people with hearing loss. However, they can hardly talk to each other as Ukrainian and Russian are actually foreign languages for people with hearing impairments.

The activists of the volunteer NGO "Sprout" decided to help the police find a common language with the people with hearing loss and organized the sign language courses for them.

Head of the NGO Iryna Sarancha initially arranged a meeting with all the patrol police officers of the city (more than 200 people) and invited sign language teacher Hanna Kozhukhivska. Together they tried to persuade the police that knowledge of the sign language is an opportunity to show respect for a person with hearing loss.

Moreover, people with hearing impairments are especially vulnerable to stressful situations, so the calm and professional behavior of the law enforcement officers is extremely important for them.

"This is a norm for Europe. The European public servants know the basic words in sign language and can offer help to people with hearing loss.

Contact with the police is a stress for a person with normal hearing, whereas the people with hearing impairments are more anxious as a rule. If a police officer lingers for a few seconds, they will no longer be able to establish a contact with a person with hearing loss," Hanna Kozhukhivska explains.

Twenty police officers responded to the proposal to learn the sign language.

They attended ten classes, during which they learnt the simple phrases "Good afternoon!", "I am a police officer", "I want to help you" and found out about the peculiarities of psychology of the people with hearing impairments.

Roman Kharchuk, a student of the Ukraine University, which has special departments for the people with hearing loss, a member of Ukraine's badminton team of people with hearing loss, says that it does not matter to him whether a police officer has a good command of the sign language or not. The main thing is that they try to show respect.

"It’s important to me that the patrol police officers in Vinnytsia try to learn the sign language. I feel happy and comfortable when people make an eye contact with me while chatting.

I understand that the sign language is very complicated, you cannot master it in one or two days, but I believe these skills to be very important," he says.

However, not all the patrol police officers are satisfied with the courses. Some of them are happy with the new knowledge, while some officers doubt if they will really be able to communicate with people with hearing loss at work.

"When the law enforcers meet people with hearing impairments, they do not know what to do and are afraid of them.

We, the police officers, should adapt to people, not vice versa. We should admit people into our minds," believes Zarina Mayevska, the senior inspector at the Special Ombudsman's Department at the National Police.

"We need to establish face-to-face contacts with the people with hearing loss, meet with them to overcome the barrier of communication. We need to find the sign language interpreters to be able to call them and ask to promptly come to the scene," notes Olesia Shapovalova, a Vinnytsia patrol police officer.

However, many police officers complain the need to study in their free time and, therefore, they quickly lose motivation.

KYIV

Kyiv is famous all over Ukraine not only for its central Khreshchatyk Street or perepichka (a deep fried donut with a sausage inside) but also for the chaotically parked cars on the streets. Both drivers and pedestrians have their own truth. The drivers complain about the lack of available parking places, while the pedestrians grumble at the clogged lawns, sidewalks and pedestrian crossings.

The DreamKyiv activists believe that this problem has also another reason: the lack of a culture of parking. They decided to improve the situation in an original way: to print the leaflets and give them to drivers, who have left their cars in undesignated areas.

The DreamKyiv team members have repeatedly discussed the design and wording of leaflets, says flash mob co-organizer Anna Ustenko. Finally, it was decided that the leaflets should be friendly.

"The calls for behaving in a civilized way should be civilized. For the same reason we have refused to stick the leaflets to cars as this can be perceived by drivers as the damage of their property," she emphasized.

Bohdan Hdal designed the leaflets for activists.

The first flash mob took place in the Kyiv’s Podilsky district. Local activists, patrol police officers and chairman of the Podilsky district administration Valentyn Mondryivsky took part in the flash mob.

During the event, the activists recorded about 300 violations of traffic rules. They talked with the drivers and local residents about the traffic problems.

However, one flash mob was not enough to solve the parking problems in the city. The DreamKyiv activists decided to hand over the leaflets to the opinion leaders who would cover this topic on Facebook.

In June, co-founder of one of the most popular public spaces in Kyiv –Art Plant Platform – Roman Tuhashev addressed the DreamKyiv team. He suggested uniting efforts. About 370,000 people annually visit the Art Plant Platform, and they are the target audience of this flash mob. It was decided to distribute the leaflets in the ticket offices of the Platform.

In order to make the leaflets more attractive, the activists opted for the thicker paper and made a field for a phone number on the reverse side of the leaflets (if a car bothers other drivers).

The flash mob organizers distributed about 2,000 cards during the first two festivals that took place at the Art Plant Platform.

"About 20,000 people visited our Street Food Festival, and about 30% of them arrived here by car. The parking lot is large enough, but the problem of parking still remains relevant because of the huge number of cars. We have long been thinking of such a service for visitors as parking cards, where they can indicate their contact telephone number, and if someone’s car obstructs free movement of people, we will be able to call that person.

 In the end, we decided to unite this idea with the DreamKyiv initiative, which we consider to be right and very useful. At first, our visitors were confused with those cards, but now more and more people get interested in them," says Kateryna Pavlevych, a representative of the Art Plant Platform.

Now the cards are distributed in the Art Plant ticket offices during each Street Food Festival. In such a way, the flash mob has become regular and does not now require the constant participation of DreamKyiv activists in its organization.

DreamKyiv plans to further develop this activity.

Marharyta Tarasova, Human Rights Information Centre, specially for Ukrayinska Pravda. Zhyttia

Source: Ukrayinska Pravda

 

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