Move towards recruiting 40,000 Community Policing Officers, CPOs that will assist the Police in their duties, have begun, as the Lagos State Police Command has set up a screening committee comprising Local Government chairmen, traditional rulers and members of the Police Community Relations Committee, PCRC.
When recruited, the constabulary Police are expected to carry out some duties like regular policemen, including wearing police uniforms.
Briefing journalists after meeting with members of the screening committee, Lagos State Commissioner of Police, CP Hakeem Odumosu, explained that the meeting was to sensitize them on the new initiative and to ensure that character checks were carried out before recruiting members of the public as Community Policing officers.
Odumosu said: “We are highly elated because they are coming in to assist us. Police can’t work without information. They will serve as our eyes and informants.
“The meeting is about the practicality of community policing. It is a sensitization step towards actualizing the Federal Government’s decision to bring in community policing on board, through the IGP, that special Constabularies will be recruited into the Police.
“It is going to reduce the shortage of manpower in the police but more importantly it is going to be a symbiotic one. The inflow of information and to make people have a sense of belonging.
“The modalities for recruitment and their duties are stated in sections 49 and 50 of the Police Acts and Regulations. They are unlike the SPY Police because they are going to be working in the police stations, like regular policemen. They have the same rights and privileges as the conventional police. So they may be deployed to work at the counter or be sent to invite somebody to the station.
“Part of the qualification is age, as written in the Police Act, from 21 years and 50 years. There may be variations in other areas, like regular Constable that has at least a secondary school certificate, theirs maybe not because it is a voluntary service.
“Their services will be restricted to the communities they reside in. Unlike regular Police that will be transferred, they will not be transferred outside their communities. If they leave the communities where they were recruited, they cannot work from their new locations, as their services are not transferable. They will have to undergo training with us after the screening committee recruits them.”
Speaking, Chairman of Idu Victoria Island Local Development Council, Princess Basirat Abiodun, said that the project was long overdue, adding that security was the duty of all and not strictly the Police.
She noted that the recruitment of people with good character as CPOs would be better done by community leaders since they were closer to the people.
She also ruled out the possibility of the recruitment being hijacked by politicians or having an ethnic bias, stating that Lagos, being a metropolitan state, would accommodate those qualified.
Asked what was the difference between CPOs and Amotekun, she replied: “ The issue of Amotekun is about South-West, it has its own segment. But this one is Federal. So these two can work together for peace and security because security is germane. So, everybody must key in.”