The Rwanda National Police (RNP)'s week-long campaign to strengthen community policing concluded on Thursday with a call to reinforce community initiatives against lawlessness.
Even as the country is witnessing sustained security, police says prevailing cases of drug abuse, domestic and gender based violence, a child abuse are corruption are some of the issues that could jeopardise efforts to improve people's social welfare.
Addressing hundreds of Kigali dwellers and other community policing groups at Kigali stadium, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), Barthelemy Rugwizangoga, said that community policing is the backbone of the current security situation.
Community policing, he added, helped break the past phobia that made the citizenry fear their security organs while denying them the right to safeguard their own security.
Community policing was adapted in the year 2000, when the national police force was created, to encourage citizens to participate in crime-solving.
It came as a strategic response to rampant crime, police says.
Since then, various community policing groups have been established, including over 140,000 members of community policing committees, 260,000 Rwanda youth volunteers in community policing, about 3,000 anti-crime clubs, anti-crime ambassadors as well as Irondo (community night patrols)across 14, 837 villages in the country.
The 2017/2018 World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Index (GCI) ranked Rwanda the first in Africa and 13th globally where citizens trust and rely on police services for their safety.
"Community policing gains should be sustained and strengthened to give no room for drug dealers, and ensure those who abuse the rights of women and children, and deny the young people a better future are brought to justice. All this largely depend on information sharing," ACP Rugwizangoga said.
On the issue of narcotics, ACP Rugwizangoga observed that it remains one of the major obstacles to youth development both in aspects of education and health.
More than 4000 drug dealers were arrested last year. Youth aged between 18 and 35 years account for at least 70 per cent of the people involved in drug related crimes, including trafficking, and abuse.
Between 2010 and 2015, the Neuro-psychiatric Hospital of Ndera received 1,432 patients with mental illness due to use of drugs, according to Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC).
The number increased to 2804 in 2016 but dropped to 1960 last year. Huye Isange Rehabilitation Centre received 209 cases, last year.
Kirehe, Nyagatare, Rubavu, Burera and Gicumbi districts, where the latest campaign was also held, are considered as the main transit routes for drug traffickers.
As a result, communities especially, along borders, have formed anti-drugs groups aimed at reenforcing police efforts to break chains of supply.
Official reports indicate that the number of teenage mothers is high in the districts of Gatsibo, Nyagatare, Kirehe, Bugesera, Gasabo, Rubavu, Kayonza, Musanze, Ngoma and Rwamagana.
"Don't witness or suspect a crime and keep quiet," Rugwizangoga said.
He hinted on the issue of road traffic safety urging them to report drivers and motorcyclists whose behaviours put lives of people at risk.
Despite the 20 per cent reduction in road accidents in this year's first nine months, overtaking and dangerous spots, speeding, drunk-driving and driving while using the phone remain the major causes of fatalities.
Motorcyclists account for 30 per cent of road injuries and deaths registered, followed by cyclists and pedestrians.