Community and Police Relations and Conflict Management

Articles & Insights

January 31, 2017

CTI-1 Public presentation and the Rift Valley Institute

 “Not all wounds are visible”

— Dr. Abdikadir Warsame,

Director – Tawakal Medical Clinic

Community Resilience to Violent Extremism encompass different factors including; community protective outlook, public/private partnerships, dispute resolution and recognition of law enforcement. As a starting point, governments using hard power approaches to deal with violent extremism, have put the law enforcement on the spot to the extent that they cannot communicate with the community members, receive information from them or have a basic relationship with them. Research shows that hard power approaches have not resulted in success. In fact, hard power approaches mostly implemented by law enforcement result in resentment and push more individuals into violent extremism and terrorism.

Such governments that extend their hard power to communities using law enforcement not only reduce the trust of the citizens but provide a narrative that resonates with the vulnerable groups while being propagated by the violent extremist organizations. Creating linkages with law enforcement not only provides a road map for engagement with government, but also build the trust required to ensure communities share information and work to prevent violent extremism. Law enforcement remains to be the gap that leads to sustainable engagement in responding to violent extremism and terrorism in communities.

Scofield Associates and Tawakal Medical held a community together initiative project review at the Rift Valley Institute on Tuesday the 31st January 2017. The main aim of this was to enlighten the major stakeholders dealing with community together initiative in the country on the overall project and sharing on what works at the community level. The project was developed by Scofield Associates and Implemented in partnership with Tawakal Medical Clinic whose directors are; Dr. Abdikadir and Dr. Maimuna. The two directors discovered that most of their patients suffered psychosomatic pain; this is basically mental and emotional illness with physical or bodily symptoms. When they probed further on the possible causes, the patients identified a common stressor in the community. This stress resulted from engagement with law enforcement within Eastleigh in Nairobi.

The need for the community included the creation of a bridge between the community and the law enforcement as a way to reduce the gap in the community by creating a bond between the community and the law enforcement agencies within the area. A baseline survey conducted within Kamukunji constituency and more specifically Eastleigh area discovered that hard approach to conflict management created stress within the community which led to violent outburst and forms of extremism. It further noted that to be able to counter this, counselling and psycho-social support was required. Scofield Associates and Tawakal Medical Clinic with support from the US State Department proceeded to model a program that would provide training and relationship building with the aim of bringing the law enforcers and community members together to foster peace within the area.

When the end line survey was done, led by Julius Adinoyi, who is the lead researcher at Scofield Associates it was noted that there was a noticeable improvement with regard to information sharing, relationship building and the use of non-violent means of resolving conflict. Senior Sergeant Mwangi, who oversees one of the administrative police base in Eastleigh noted that the relationship between law enforcement and the community members had improved further emphasizing that they had become friends with members of the community. To further foster peace and unity, the community and the members of the police force need to have more activities to bring them together. A major outcome from the program was that the police and the community members have a clear and open communication channel through what’s up and Facebook Messenger and other social media sites.

The forum was facilitated by the director of Scofield associates Mr. Muliru, with presentations from Mr. Julius Adinoyi, S.A, Dr. Abdikadir Warsame from Tawakal Medical Clinic, Senior Sergeant Mwangi, Administrative Police and Mr. Liban; community member who benefited from this program. The team also had a chance to answer a couple of questions.