Saturday, April 03, 2010

Sulu cops bring home from US applicable ideas on community policing

MANILA, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / April 3, 2010) - Nine police officers from the southern Philippines’ Mindanao region said their recent visit to the US showed them how “community policing” could be implemented more widely and systematically in a locality and how additional facilities and modern technology could enhance the partnership between the local police and the members of a community to maintain peace and order, the US Embassy website reported.

The police officers, all of whom were from Mindanao’s Sulu Province, visited the US on February 21-March 6 to observe the implementation of “community policing,” an approach to ensuring the safety of the community through active partnership between the local police and the residents and civic organizations in the community.

“We have been applying the concept of community policing in the Philippines for a long time now,” said Chief Inspector Amil Banaan, of the Sulu Provincial Police Office, in describing the approach to community policing that he and eight other officers observed in Virginia and New York. “But compared to the police in the US, we in Mindanao have less in terms of facilities and modern technology.”

Other members of the group noted that each police team in the U.S. community they visited has a vehicle available for their use, and U.S. patrol cars are provided laptop computers so that police officers could send or receive data even while on the road. Connection to the Internet as in the U.S., another member of the group noted, would be particularly useful in Sulu, where the province’s residents and police units are spread out in several islands. “With e-mail, it would be a lot easier for us to coordinate with other units in the island. We could even hold meetings through e-mails,” said Pakhar Mawan, chief of the Sulu Police Provincial Investigation and Detection Management Section.

Mawan and Banaan were the senior members of the group Sulu police officers who visited the US under the Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program. The program seeks to build mutual understanding between the US and other nations through professional visits to the US for current and emerging foreign leaders. Each year over 4,500 IVLP participants from all over the world are selected by US embassies to travel to the US to meet and confer with their professional counterparts.

Baanan said the governor of Sulu province, Dr Sakur Tan, was supportive of the recent trip and pledged to continue further other programs that would largely help the police improve its services in the province. "The Governor is very supportive of this program and he pledged to continue other programs that would enhance more the police services in Sulu," he told the Mindanao Examiner in a separate interview.

The other members of Banaan and Mawan’s group were: Ednahar Hambali, chief of administration, Indanan Police Station; Russell Elenzano, chief of the Pata Police Station; Francisco Panisan, chief of the Patikul Police Station; Kris Conrad Gutierrez, chief of the Panglima Estino Police Station; Aida Banaan, assistant investigator of the Jolo Police Station; Ferusa Asiri, women and children desk officer of the Indanan Police Station; and Norhara Haiber, personnel officer of provincial police radio/communication logistics.

In an interview March 9 on the nationally broadcast “Pulis ng Bayan” program on Philippines’ radio station Veritas, all members of the group concluded that their visit to the US has been very useful.

Indanan town’s Hambali said that what the group learned from the visit is “relevant and applicable not just in Sulu but to the whole Mindanao.” Panglima Estino Police Station’s Gutierrez, meanwhile, noted that in the communities they visited, “there was no discrimination” and “Christians and Muslims work together” to maintain peace and order in their localities.

Pata Police Station chief Elenzano moreover observed that to establish closer ties between the law enforcers and the community, “it is the police that approaches the community.” (Leandro Llave. With a report from the Mindanao Examiner.)

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