The aim of this research was to examine the role of police-community relations in combating crime in Nasarawa Local Government, Kano State. However other specific objectives are to examine the role of police-community relations in combating crime; to assess the relationship between the police and community in combating crime; to examine the challenges of police-community relations in combating crime; and to provide suggestions on how to improve the police-community relations in combating crime. The study employed the survey research design and the stratified random sampling technique was used in selecting respondents. The qualitative and quantitative methods were used in collecting data from respondents. Questionnaires were distributed to 120 respondents while 16 interviewees were captured in the in depth interview. Findings revealed that patrol, surveillance and guards were the role of police-community relations in combating crime. More so, findings revealed that there exists a mutual relationship between the community and the police. Furthermore, it was revealed that corruption, negative attitude of the police towards the people and inhuman treatment towards the people are the challenges of police-community relations. Additionally, these challenges however have led to other social problems such as loss of lives and property, lack of mutual understanding between the police and community, loss of confidence in the police force, loss of the dignity of the Nigeria Police Force. Finally, findings provided strategies in which police- community relations can be improved. These strategies include recruitment of qualified personnel, establishment of institutions that will sanction corrupt practices among police officers, public enlightenment, and maximum cooperation between the police and the public in combating crime.
BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
The community relies upon the police to “protect and serve”, and the police in return rely upon the community’s support and cooperation in order to be effective. When there is good police–community relations, police have a better understanding of the public’s concerns (especially those that are crime related),and citizens are more inclined to report crimes that occur to the police, provide tips/intelligence to law enforcement, willingly serve as witnesses, and are happy to participate in jury trials. By extension preventing crimes before they occur or minimize their impact, instead of simply react to calls for service. Good police–community relations prevent the possibility that the public thinks that police are simply a mechanism for intelligence collection.
Police-community relations refer to the ongoing and changing relationship between the police and the communities they serve. This includes issues of cooperation, race relations, and fear of police, violence, and corruption. In other words, no matter how well equipped the police department may be, its efficiency and effectiveness will largely remain a potential if it fails to establish a good relationship with its host community (Ross, 1995).Peel (1829) undertook the reorganization of the London police with the Metropolitan Police Act of 1829, he and the two key commissioners that he appointed, Charles and Richard emphasized that the police should work in cooperation with the people to protect the rights, serve the needs, and earn the trust of the members of the community (Critchley, 1967; Reith, 1952). Writing at the turn of the century, Lee (1971) discussed Peel’s principles of law enforcement. According to Lee, police officers are “public servants in the fullest sense of the term” (Ross, 1995).
The concept of police-community relations has gained a secure level of acceptance in the law enforcement establishment and in urban government. Acceptance, in a working sense, means that proposals to establish and maintain such programs have a fair chance of success (Cox, 1996).The concept of Police-Community Relationships (PCRs) is very important to understanding of the role of the police in society and the ways in which communities can render assistance to the police in discharging these roles as effectively as possible. For example, in order for the police to carry out their crime control, peace/order maintenance, traffic control and emergency management functions effectively, it must work with residents of their host communities and see themselves as partners in the same community. If the community residents have cause to suspect the police or consider them as an army of occupation they will withdraw their cooperation and unrest will reign in such a community. Therefore, “Police-community relationship must be two-way partnerships” because “in a democratic society, the legitimacy of the police depends on broad and active public acceptance and support” (Dempsey and Forst 2008: 288).