PNP learns ba­sics of com­mu­nity polic­ing from UK

Philippine Daily Inquirer - - FRONT PAGE - By Juliet Labog-Javel­lana Chief, In­quirer Cen­tral Desk

(Last of two parts) NORTH WALES, United King­dom—Win­ston Rod­dick, the first-ever elected po­lice and crime com­mis­sioner for North Wales, has this mes­sage to the Philip­pine Na­tional Po­lice: Con­sult­ing the peo­ple is es­sen­tial.

“You’ve got to keep in touch with the com­mu­nity. Once you’ve set it up and you’ve built the bridge, you have to cross that bridge reg­u­larly in or­der to main­tain the re­la­tion­ship,” Rod­dick told mem­bers of a Philip- pine tech­ni­cal work­ing group look­ing for a model for polic­ing in the pro­posed Bangsamoro au­ton­o­mous re­gion.

Elected in 2012, af­ter Eng­land and Wales cre­ated the po­si­tion in 2011, Rod­dick is the per­son ac­count­able for gov­ern­ing the po­lice in North Wales.

“I am the pub­lic face of the po­lice. If the po­lice are un­pop­u­lar with the peo­ple, the peo­ple come and tell me, and I speak to the po­lice chief of­fi­cers and say this is what I have heard, ex­plain your­self and tell me what you are go­ing to do to re­form,”

he said.

Rod­dick, one of the four com­mis­sion­ers in Wales, has the power to fire the chief con­sta­ble (po­lice chief) of North Wales.

At the time of the visit by a 12mem­ber study group brought here by the Bri­tish Coun­cil last month, Rod­dick was work­ing on a third re­vi­sion of his Po­lice and Crime Plan for 2015.

Con­sul­ta­tion meet­ings

He has 11 con­sul­ta­tion meet­ings to con­duct un­til Fe­bru­ary to sub­mit the plan to pub­lic scru­tiny.

Rod­dick will meet with se­nior cit­i­zens, peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties and cham­pi­ons of chil­dren’s rights to get their views on whether his plan is ac­cept­able. His goals are se­cu­rity in the home, safety in pub­lic places and vis­i­ble and ac­ces­si­ble polic­ing.

While Rod­dick sets the broad strat­egy, the po­lice force is em­pow­ered to lay out the op­er­a­tional and tac­ti­cal de­tails to achieve those goals. The com­mis­sion ad­ver­tises the plan and the con­sul­ta­tion dates, and the pub­lic can com­ment on­line (http://www.north­wale­spcc.gov.uk/en/Home.aspx).

Hear­ing about the Min­danao case, Rod­dick said he reg­u­larly met with Mus­lim lead­ers here.

“I go to the mosque and lis­ten to and ob­serve the ser­vice. We demon­strate how much we value a re­la­tion­ship with mi­nor­ity groups of that kind and I know they value it greatly,” he said.

Draw­ing on the North­ern Ire­land peace process, Rod­dick said tol­er­ance was quite im­por­tant. “You can’t heal those wounds with­out tol­er­ance, un­der­stand­ing and for­give­ness with a big F,” he said.

Pub­lic trust

What­ever model is cho­sen for the Bangsamoro po­lice, pub­lic trust is vi­tal to its suc­cess, Rod­dick said.

“You’re em­bark­ing on an ex­cit­ing change. You’re strength­en­ing the demo­cratic re­spon­si­bil­ity of the po­lice and im­prov­ing the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the pub­lic and the po­lice. And that qual­ity of the re­la­tion­ship is ab- solutely es­sen­tial to the suc­cess of com­mu­nity polic­ing,” he said.

“What is in­fin­itely bet­ter than see­ing a po­lice of­fi­cer on the street is if that po­lice of­fi­cer is be­ing iden­ti­fied by the peo­ple as be­ing of the peo­ple and for the peo­ple,” he said.

Not­ing how Philip­pine of­fi­cials were wowed by re­sources at the dis­posal of the North Wales po­lice, Philip Thom­son, Bri­tish Coun­cil con­sul­tant and team leader of the com­mu­nity polic­ing project for the Bangsamoro, told the vis­it­ing group that they should look at North Wales as “as­pi­ra­tional” and fo­cus on the mind-set rather than the means.

“This is not a com­par­a­tive study. What is rel­e­vant, we take back to the Philip­pines. What is not rel­e­vant, we leave be­hind,” said Thom­son, a for­mer po­lice com­man­der in the area who man­aged the week­long tour.

Rod­dick’s talk and the im­mer­sion with the North Wales po­lice brought can­did re­al­iza­tions for the group, most of whom were law en­force­ment of­fi­cers in the Au­ton­o­mous Re­gion in Mus­lim Min­danao (ARMM).

They con­sti­tuted a tech­ni­cal work­ing group tasked with pro­duc­ing a “tool kit” for com­mu­nity polic­ing in the pro­posed Bangsamoro, a project funded by the Bri­tish Coun­cil.

The of­fi­cials saw the mil­i­tary ori­en­ta­tion of the po­lice as a prob­lem, along with cor­rup­tion, lack of pro­fes­sion­al­ism and scarcity of re­sources.

“I think it’s really the en­gage­ment with the com­mu­nity and the abil­ity and ded­i­ca­tion of the po­lice to come up with very in­no­va­tive so­lu­tions to spe­cific prob­lems. I think that’s one skill and qual­ity we sel­dom see in the Philip­pines,” said Moro Is­lamic Lib­er­a­tion Front (MILF) lawyer Naguib Si­narimbo, a vet­eran of the peace process in Min­danao.

He said po­lice­men, as­signed on ro­ta­tion, did not even speak the lan­guage in the com­mu­ni­ties.

“What we have is a na­tional- ized po­lice force that is hi­er­ar­chi­cal, where de­ci­sions are made [at the] top. So you lose the abil­ity to look at spe­cific prob­lems at the level of the com­mu­nity that al­low your po­lice of­fi­cers cer­tain lev­els of de­ci­sions to re­spond,” Si­narimbo said.

A big con­cern in the Bangsamoro com­mu­ni­ties is the rep­u­ta­tion of the po­lice, he said.

“They see po­lice of­fi­cers as be­ing just pri­vate se­cu­rity guards of politi­cians. Sec­ond, I think there is a com­mon rep­u­ta­tion that po­lice of­fi­cers are the ones that en­cour­age crime so there’s that neg­a­tive per­cep­tion against po­lice of­fi­cers that we need to ad­dress,” he said.

Brig. Gen. Bue­naven­tura Pas­cual, chief of the Philip­pine mil­i­tary’s peace process of­fice, was also im­pressed with the level of com­mu­nity en­gage­ment by the po­lice here.

“The func­tion of the po­lice here is very spe­cific—safer com­mu­nity, safer busi­ness, safer roads, safer schools,” Pas­cual noted.

‘ Ver­ti­cal’ ori­en­ta­tion

In the Philip­pines, the “ver­ti­cal” ori­en­ta­tion of the po­lice force does not al­low for com­mu­nity en­gage­ment, he said.

“First our struc­ture is very ver­ti­cal, mean­ing the [sta­tion] chief of po­lice is an­swer­able to the provin­cial, then the re­gional di­rec­tor then the chief PNP. So the ob­jec­tive of the po­lice of­fi­cer is to sat­isfy the chain of com­mand be­cause it will af­fect his ca­reer, pro­mo­tion, school­ing and re­as­sign­ment,” Pas­cual said.

“Wow, very far,” lawyer An­war Malang, re­gional di­rec­tor for the Depart­ment of the In­te­rior and Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment in the ARMM, said of the im­age of the Philip­pine po­lice­man com­pared to his Bri­tish coun­ter­part.

“In their case, they are very proac­tive and pro­tec­tive of the in­tegrity of the po­lice­men. And if you no­tice, the rank­ing sys­tem is sort of im­ma­te­rial with them. Po­lice­men in our case are very mil­i­taris­tic in ori­en­ta­tion, even in the rank­ing it­self. For in­stance, you have a chief PNP with a four-star rank and many gen­er­als sur­round­ing him,” Malang said.

‘Good start’

While some con­cepts here would not be rel­e­vant, such as an elected com­mis­sioner, Malang said the Bri­tish com­mu­nity polic­ing could be “a very good start that can be a model for the en­tire coun­try.”

Chief Supt. Ron­ald Estilles, PNP re­gional di­rec­tor for the ARMM, said he was im­pressed with the po­lice of­fi­cers here hav­ing the power to do what they thought was best for their com­mu­ni­ties.

“In our case, we have to clear ev­ery­thing with our su­pe­ri­ors. If I am an in­spec­tor, I can­not do any­thing with­out the clear­ance of my chief of po­lice. Ev­ery­thing has to be cleared up­stairs,” Estilles said.

Garie Bri­ones, Bri­tish Coun­cil project and fi­nance of­fi­cer, said the po­lice needed to nur­ture part­ner­ships with com­mu­ni­ties to aug­ment scarce re­sources.

“Dif­fer­ent com­mu­ni­ties have dif­fer­ent prob­lems so we really can’t have a one-size-fits-all (strat­egy). Com­mu­nity polic­ing is rel­e­vant when you deal with com­mu­ni­ties be­cause the com­mu­nity-based po­lice know their neigh­bor­hood and what they need,” Bri­ones said.

‘Out-of-box so­lu­tions’

Through part­ner­ships with busi­ness, schools and so­cial or­ga­ni­za­tions like what they do here, the Philip­pine po­lice can do out-of-the-box so­lu­tions, he said.

“We are glad we have a chief PNP now, Di­rec­tor Gen­eral Mar­quez, who is very pos­i­tive about com­mu­nity polic­ing,” Bri­ones said.

Chief Supt. Wil­fredo Franco, the di­rec­tor for po­lice com­mu­nity re­la­tions of the PNP, con­firmed that Mar­quez’s pol­icy runs in line with the com­mu­nity-ori­ented polic­ing.

“Our PNP chief has an­chored his ad­min­is­tra­tion on go­ing back to the ba­sics of polic­ing, which is pa­trolling. He em­pha­sized that the po­lice should be seen more on the streets,” Franco said, not­ing that di­rec­tive had been given to the 160,000strong po­lice force.

One pro­gram not prop­erly im­ple­mented, Franco said, was the “Pulis Ko, Teacher Ko,” which was sim­i­lar in con­cept to the All-Wales School Li­ai­son Project. “We have the idea, but we are not do­ing it the right way,” he said.

Franco vowed to push the po­lice-school li­ai­son pro­gram. He said his wife, a teacher, had told him that Filipino stu­dents had a low aware­ness of the role of the po­lice in com­mu­ni­ties.

JULIET LABOG- JAVEL­LANA

ROD­DICK

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