In November, the West Africa Regional Training Center (RTC) launched the first of a three part series of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL) courses on Countering Violent Extremism. The series focuses on three key areas: community policing, threat finance, and a seminar focusing on the role of executives. The Community Policing pilot course was designed to engage local communities in efforts to promote public safety in crime prevention. Often times, international police agencies miss opportunities to develop relations with the communities that they police. This allows criminals and violent extremists to gain footholds in the affected communities. Following a criminal incident, law enforcement actions and a lack of effective public communication will often alienate these very communities, making the job of law enforcement more difficult as a result.
Course topics included sessions on Community Policing Philosophy and Strategy, Partnership Building, Problem Solving, Religious Pluralism, and Countering Violent Extremism. All three instructors were well versed in their area of expertise. Foria Yo
unis brought her expertise as former FBI Agent and prosecutor; Maurita Bryant, a retired Assistant Chief of the Investigations Branch, Pittsburgh Police Department (and currently the Assistant Superintendent of Allegheny County Police Department); and Habiba Twumasi-Sarpong, a Ghanaian Assistant Commissioner. The course provided effective training in best practices for community engagement and trust building that can help to save lives, prevent crime, and build stronger relations with a community. Participants from Ghana, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Niger, Burkina Faso, Benin and Mali were engaged through practical exercises built upon actual cases and regional issues. The course also featured a panel of five local community leaders (Neighborhood Watch Chairs, a Chief Imam, a Clinical Psychologist, and a Community Coordinator) to speak on local community policing experiences within their respective communities. As a course capstone assignment, the delegations from each participating country were responsible for devising and presenting a course of action based on the information learned in the course.
For future iterations of the course, the RTC aims to further diversify the panel by inviting university student leaders, local tribal chiefs and community leaders from other countries to engage in the discourse.
Stay tuned for updates regarding new and ongoing courses in 2017! The calendar is filling up fast.