Impact of New Police Stations: The Gikomero Story

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It’s Tuesday, 10:27 am; Jean Claude Nzabonimpa (not real names) in company of a woman only identified as Maria, arrives at Gikomero Police Station in Gasabo District where they are received by the station commander, who guides them to the office of the judicial police officer best known in a French acronym OPJ.

Nzabonimpa and Maria’s urgency was to report a crime.

Apparently, the 24 youthful university students, while running an errand earlier, witnessed an incident related to gender based violence in Twina Village of Murambi Cell. Maria was being assaulted.

According to Nzabonimpa, the victim was not willing to report the crime. On her part, Maria says she “wasn’t sure of what to do” since the assaulter was her husband.

Nzabonimpa advice opened Maria’s eyes to report the repeated assault.

“I told her this is a crime and a violation of human rights that shouldn’t go unreported, so I took the initiative to accompany her to the police attention for appropriate action to be taken, especially that now we have a police station in the vicinity.”

Gikomero, a home of over 18, 400 residents, is one of the fifteen sectors in Gasabo which previously had no police station, with residents having to brave distances to the nearest station either in Ndera, Rusororo or Kabuga.

Previously, only three out of fifteen sectors of Gasabo had a police station.

Today, all the sectors of Gasabo have a police station, majority including Gikomero, constructed out of financial contributions and manpower by the residents.

Gasabo constitute 58.2 percent of the City of Kigali.

“It was hectic, costly and affecting our way of being; to think that you have to spend almost the whole day if you want any service from a police station was our biggest challenge,” says a 54-year old Ancilla Gasengayire.

Indeed, Gasengayire and her arts and craft association of at least 40 women, when the idea came up in a community meeting to construct their own police station, they were among those who contributed both financially and manpower.

The fully-fledged Gikomero Police Station was officially inaugurated in June last year. Formerly a dilapidated house, residents contributed Rwf9.8 million to refurbish it. It has an anti-GBV room, two separate detention facilities to accommodate both male and female suspects, operation and control rooms.

Cyprien Hakizimana, another resident also says some people would even give up reporting injustices due to the long distance.

“Gikomero was like a hub for drug dealers and distillers of illicit drinks, especially in Murambi Cell,” says Hakizimana.

“We were experiencing many crimes, today; we are celebrating the safety and security we are enjoying which we attribute to our Police. It’s not 100 percent, but there is sense of fear to commit a crime, night patrols have been harnessed, we now have Irondo patrol vehicle and work with our Police station on daily basis in anti-crime awareness activities,” he narrates.

According to Senior Supt. Valens Muhabwa, the District Police Commander of Gasabo, Gikomero has since turned from one of the places with high crimes, to a sector with least crimes.

Theft, snatching people’s belonging in wee hours, assault, domestic and gender based violence, were the order of the day in the area prior to establishing a police station.

“It was like the hub of drug dealers and distillers of illicit brew that would be distributed to other parts of Gasabo and the City of Kigali, and this is partly why there were many crimes,” says the DPC.

“When you look at the current status of safety, which has extremely improved, it’s almost entirely the role of the people, right from the idea and constructing their police station, reporting drug dealers and other criminals, heading awareness campaigns and tightening community night patrols.”

The station, like others across the country, is connected to the online services which facilitates to forward case files instantly.

In January last year, residents of Rusebeya Sector in Rutsiro constructed a police station worth Rwf27.5 million.

Later in June, residents of Gisozi Sector also in Gasabo followed suit and constructed a Police stationvalued at over Rwf23 million as part of their community policing initiative to support security activities in the area.

In 2014, four Police stations valued at Rwf70 million were inaugurated in the sectors of Gahara, Mahama, Mpanga and Kigarama in Kirehe District.

In February this year, residents of Gatsibo District contributed over Rwf87 million, through which they constructed ten police stations.

“Service delivery is a national policy, and establishing police stations in all the 416 sectors across the country is in that line,” says Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Theos Badege, the Rwanda National Police (RNP) spokesperson.

Close to 400 sectors have police stations currently, up from 69 stations in 2013.

“These stations constructed by the people are the real meaning of community policing and inclusive policing, and have impacted on their lives through improved safety, arrest and timely processing of case files, and easy access to police services,” ACP Badege explains.

“This this kind of bond in security and general development activities explains why the people believe and trust their police, and why Rwanda is ranked among the safest countries around the world where people feel safe at all times. This is the same ideal that is driving the concept of ‘crime-free village.’”

Services offered at Police station

Police station receives complaints, carries investigations into the case and processing of the file to prosecution; conducts anti-crime awareness, enforces policies and supports government programmes like Umuganda, mituelle (health insurance), education, environmental protection, among others.

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