Dar es Salaam — Tanzanian police will offer private security guards standard police training starting in February to help strengthen security in the country.
Dar es Salaam Deputy Commissioner of Police Suleiman Kova said there are fewer than 1 million police officers in the country and that private security guards are filling the gap.
"We can no longer work in isolation. The total number of private guards in the country is up to 1.2 million, compared to less than 1 million police officers," he told Sabahi. "Private guards have been instrumental in maintaining security and now we have decided to give them police-like training."
Police are collaborating with private guards to offer security services to important government buildings and high-profile institutions such as the Bank of Tanzania, bureaux de change (currency exchanges), ministry offices and various companies, Kova said, adding that it is unwise to neglect private security officers and not provide assistance to ensure that they abide by the same standards as state police.
Private guards will attend a six-month training camp managed by the police. The training will cost 600,000 shillings ($380) per guard, with the cost split between the private firms and the police, Kova said.
He said 10 companies have committed to taking part in the programme and police expect 50,000 security guards to participate in the first training session scheduled to start February 15th.
Minister of Home Affairs Emmanuel Nchimbi said that through public-private partnership, Tanzania has embraced private guards as important partners in maintaining security.
"Private guards are now stationed almost everywhere," Nchimbi told Sabahi. "Whenever any incident [of theft] occurs, they respond immediately, and with police backup bandits know they have nowhere to hide hence the country is safer."
The partnership programmes started last year with the implementation of community police officers, which has been successful, he said. Under that programme, community officers act as ranked auxiliary police charged with maintaining law and order in residential areas.
Nchimbi said the success realised under this scheme inspired the government to expand the programme and train private guards to meet police training standards.
Private guards central to national security
Shahani Mokili, chief guard for Speed Security Company, told Sabahi he was pleased that the government has recognised the importance of security guards.
He said private guards are central to national security because they are regularly assigned to high-risk areas and should be trained like police officers to detect criminal activity.
"Thieves are targeting banks, bureaux de change and companies with money. If you go around in this city all these areas are guarded by private [guards]," Mokili told Sabahi. "We need special skills to fight crime. I like this idea of training us to have the same skills as police officers."
Thadeus Ngorika, 46, a guard with Group Four Security on duty at City Bank in Dar es Salaam, said the proposed training would complement collaborative efforts between police and private guards.
Citizens are usually more comfortable talking with private guards than police, he told Sabahi, which can be helpful during an investigation.
"Naturally people fear police," he said. People regard private guards as civilians, and therefore will approach them with security information that the guards then relay to police, he said.