The Police Assistance Committee (PAC) is the brainchild of the Association of Tradesmen/Women and Artisans established since 2002 with full endorsement of the Nigeria police authority and other government parastatals and security agencies. The membership of PAC/ATA constitute the grassroot of the informal sector of the Nigerian economy, with a numerical strength running into millions nation-wide, as our members exist in every state in the federation.
Basically, our main function is to offer direct and physical assistance to officers and men of the Nigeria Police Force, on one hand, and to other security agencies on other hand to enable them discharge their constitutional duties with minimum stress. We use the numerical strength of membership of associations under the umbrella of Association of Tradesmen/Women and Artisans to entrench positive attitude amongst the grassroots toward the police force and other security agencies. In a nutshell our primary objective as a body is to assist these various security forces with information dissemination, which can lead to prevention and combating of all sorts of crime in our society. In addition we also give logistics support to information gathering of the Nigerian Police Force by installing computers with internet at various police formations throughout the country, which will enable them to access information from our members through internet service. In fact this network of internet / websites is initiative of PAC to make dissemination of information easier within the police state commands, Area commands and Divisional police headquarters.
RELEVANCE OF COMMUNITY POLICING
As a body, our organization has been well involved in what could be described as community policing, since what we do mainly is to mobilize our members at the grassroots in the various local government areas and cities to nose around for information for onward dissemination to the police and other security agencies.
By so doing, community policing has been much entrenched in the system. Over time, our members go as far as liaising with community leaders, community development association, local government officials as well as traditional rulers, religious leaders, market men and women leaders, and student union leaders as possible sources of gathering information on suspicious characters and movements that could checkmate crime within the localities.
Since part of our mandate is to take community policing to the grassroots, members of the public and stakeholders, our members do monitor all those living in our various neighborhoods to fish out potential criminals amongst the people and report same to the security agencies for appropriate actions, a way of being proactive to prevent and combat crime in our society.
This time around, we want to take community policing to the next level by ensuring that city dwellers do have a feel of it and also assist the security agencies in crime fighting.
RELATIONSHIP WITH THE SECURITY AGENCIES
The PAC as a body has always maintained a cordial and conductive relationship with the security agencies, and by extension other government organs. Our way of operation is by organizing seminars/workshops regularly for our members at state and local government levels which always involve active participation by the police officers and men, as well as other security organizations such as SSS, NDLEA, Nigeria Customs, NAFDAC, EFCC, ICPC, IMMIGRATION, NSDC, SON, FRSC, Military Establishments and Civil Society groups. Such gathering had to a large extent nurtured our relationship with the security bodies. Our seminars and workshops often encourages a lot of interaction between our members and the law enforcement agencies. This is why communication between our members and the security agencies has been made easier.
SOURCES OF INFORMATION / INFORMATION GATHERING
There are various sources through which information can be sourced both at the grassroots and in the cities for on-ward dissemination to the security outlets. In our own case, our operation is structured in a way that PAC members operate in secrecy at various locations due to the nature of our assignment. We often try not to make ourselves visible or identifiable in most cases for security reasons. However, places information could be retrieved from include motor parks (surveillance and screening), market places, hostels, youth groups / political gatherings, tertiary institutions / secondary schools, general public, restaurants / beer parlours, communities, seaports, airports, etc.
THE GENERAL PUBLIC AND SECURITY AGENCIES
It is important that excellent relationship must exist between members of the public in general and security agencies, particularly the police force. The adage that says”Police is your Friend” must be practicalized in the real sense of it. Between civilians and The Police there should be a mutual understanding, also with other security agencies.
Our police officers and men must be humane enough in their dealing with members of the public so as to gain their confidence, thereby making them to have easy access to give useful information to the police on what goes on within the communities’ security wise.
The police establishment can set up secret information boxes in every neighborhood, higher institution campuses e.t.c where volunteers can drop information on security lapses which the police can leverage on to prevent and combat crime in the country. This is aside from relating constantly with leaders of organized bodies and associations with the various communities.
THE GOVERNMENT AS A MAJOR STAKEHOLDER
It is imperative for all arms of the government, the federal, state and local governments to see themselves as major stakeholders on how to ensure adequate security in the country. The PAC on our part has been working together with every organ of government. We usually send out correspondence to state governments as well as local governments and even the ministry of police affairs, as a major government organ to lend logistic support to our activities and also to send government officials to attend our seminars and workshops.