Volunteers plan to consult Kyiv region residents about security issues

The public activists of the Bila Tserkva town in Kyiv region have set out to establish communication between residents and police officers and develop the legal capacity of the community.

As a first step, they decided to conduct the opinion poll among the residents. Inna Malyshko, the lawyer at the Bila Tserkva Office of the Legal Development Network, says that the poll aimed to find out what community members think about the security situation in the town and how they evaluate the work of the police.

Six volunteers talked with 850 residents of Bila Tserkva. The poll results showed that the majority of the town’s residents were well disposed to the police and believed that the police contributed to the well-being and community security.

"The overall conclusion of the survey is that the youth better understand the work of the police. The seniors do not trust and are very skeptical about the police," explains Tetiana Makarevska, a student of the Bila Tserkva Agrarian University.

The activists decided to develop interaction with the community members, who are tolerant to the law enforcement officers, so they started to organize the meetings of the police officers with schoolchildren and students. During the meetings, the police officers tell what they do at work and answer the questions.

"We wanted to tell children and young people about the work of the police, because teenagers, for example, are afraid to go to the police," Makarevska explains.

"These meetings are very interesting. We are lawyers and, perhaps, we will become police officers. It is important for us now to establish communication with people," says student Daryna Tsepa.

Kindergartens also showed interest in this interaction format. For instance, director of the BilaTserkva pre-school educational establishment Olena Zolotarenko arranged such meetings at the previous place of work in another kindergarten and now has no doubts about their effectiveness.

"I did not expect such a response from the children. After the meeting, they were playing the police for another two weeks," she says. According to her, children are really curious about the work of the police. She says that patrol police officers also promised to arrange for children a trip to the police station.

 

The activists also organized the master classes for mothers and self-defense courses for women, where the police officers showed the hands-on techniques.

However, the activists do not limit to the meetings. They set the ambitious goals, for example, to open free counseling offices, where anyone can get information about the structure, tasks and functions of the police. In their opinion, this will promote the transparent and efficient work of the police and strengthen the community’s confidence in the law enforcement officers.

As Inna Malyshko says, the counseling offices will work in three locations – in the university, in the library and in the office of the partner organization. The people will get information from the counseling office manager and the volunteer students, who participated in the conduct of the opinion poll among the community members. They have undergone special training and will be able to tell people what they should do to solve their problem. The police officers and psychologists will also sometimes take part in the consultations.

Inna Malyshko hopes that the counseling offices will also be of interest to the seniors.

"For example, the Academy of Pensioners is going to meet in the library where the counseling office will work. We also plan to establish cooperation with the Association of ACMB of the city, and thus more senior citizens will get to know about us," she emphasizes.

Public counseling offices should become a platform for sharing experiences and problems where every city resident will have access to assistance.

The article was written within the framework of activity of the expert group "Police and Community Interaction" with the support of the International Renaissance Foundation.

Photo credit: personal photos of Inna Malyshko

Source: Human Rights Information Centre website

 

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