Engaging in a Local Context

Good Practice 4

Take a holistic approach to community engagement and community-oriented policing that involves all sectors of the society in order to find the right partners and sustain the engagement.

Although many communities have formal leaders who ably represent their peers, understand their communities and should continue to be at the forefront of community engagement initiatives, community engagement and community- oriented policing efforts tend to work best when multiple sectors within a community are involved in the initiative. It is important to incorporate community influencers who are not formal leaders into any engagement plan. This will ensure that engagement has the best chance of reaching a broad cross-section of individuals within the community and it also has the potential to aid in developing trust with different levels in the community. Providing local-level engagement officials with a broad range of potential partners, such as private sector businesses, national and local government agencies, NGOs, academia, local health care providers, teachers and the media, could give them more tools to respond to community needs. By the same token, practitioners of community-oriented policing should have access to the breadth of local law enforcement and should not be isolated from senior law enforcement leadership by excessive levels of hierarchy.

 

Good Practice 5

Engage women as positive change agents in their communities.

Many practitioners have internalized what research has shown – women, especially mothers, carry authority within their families and communities which can translate into positive influence against violent extremism. These practitioners repeatedly observe that women are the gatekeepers to their communities and, as such, should be involved in creating and maintaining CVE initiatives. Relatedly, the experience of community engagement to counter-gang recruitment shows that gang members were influenced to cease violent gang activity when they were faced with the prospect of having to explain their actions to their mothers. 

 

Good Practice 6

Engage youth and leverage schools for positive messages.

Research on youth and radicalization to violence focuses on the age group of 15-25 as the most targeted group for recruitment by violent extremists. Other research from similar fields such as gang recruitment defines the age of susceptibility even younger. What, therefore, holds true for community engagement and community-oriented policing is that initiatives should specifically involve youth input and inventiveness. Given that violent extremist recruiters specifically target youth, it is the youth who should be involved hands-on to help develop projects and messages that will resonate with their peers on the dangers of violent extremism. Furthermore, placing educators and community members in schools and other relevant fora to engage at-risk youth with positive messages or to provide counseling or other services can be an effective method of CVE, and can leverage the community in actively countering violent extremism.

 

Good Practice 7

Designate a specific individual to be the point person for engagement with the community.

Dedicated community liaison officers can focus solely on developing programs that build trust with the community and ensuring that law enforcement officials are aware of any violent extremism reported in a community. This can also keep traditional intelligence-gathering and community relationship-building separate.