Friday, 29 April 2016 14:57

Community Police: making towns and villages safer

Community police officers are in close contact with the community Community police officers are in close contact with the community

To most people, the police are known as the people who give out fines. Few know that the island’s officers play many other roles. The Cyprus Community Police has been striving to work closely with communities and feedback so far has been very positive.
Recent surveys in the Limassol communities of Ayios Athanasios and Ayios Ioannis showed a decreased crime rate and satisfaction among citizens who stated feeling safer thanks to community police officers.

Created in 2003, the community police force’s intention is to: build better relationships; improve the police’s image; be closer to the different communities; and reduce crime.
The Cyprus Community Police today employs 75 police officers and can be distinguished by their special badge depicting an adult and a child walking together in a neighbourhood with the original police insignia as background.

Special duties
Community Police Officers receive special training and are not involved in investigative cases.
Their duty is to go out into the communities, educate citizens and assist and follow up when a crime happens. They work together with the local Neighbourhood Watch programmes and give out their mobile numbers to citizens.

The officers visit schools, shops and private homes, handing out leaflets, giving advice and attempt to prevent crime through education and collaboration with the citizens.
The Ayios Ioannis District Office was Limassol’s first office and today deploys 17 Community Police Officers around Limassol and its villages.

The team includes a psychologist, an animal welfare officer, an officer who works with religious groups and a Turkish-speaking officer, who works with Turkish Cypriots living in Limassol.

Educational campaigns are carried out at schools, the latest one dealing with the use of illegal firecrackers during the Easter period, causing injuries each year.
Their use is discouraged, but if people must use them, they should be sure to only purchase the kind that is labelled ‘CE’ and has instructions and age regulations which must then be followed.

Community Officers also check online crime reports when they start their shifts and then visit the victims to see how they can help prevent future incidents.
“Sometimes it is hard for older people to understand that times have changed and that they now need to lock their doors,” explains Elena Ermogenidou who has been at the Ayios Ioannis station since 2003 is in charge of the Community Police Department.

Here to help
“We work in many different areas,” Ermogenidou explains. “We go to people’s homes if they call us, or they come to the police station. We try to help resolve issues such as domestic violence and family fights, quarrelling among neighbours, and animal matters.
“We give advice concerning the prevention of crime and the safety of property. And of course we also work as ‘regular police officers’ and give fines, for example for violations of traffic laws.”

If a problem falls into the area of the municipality, telephone numbers for the department in charge will be given out. If no solution can be found to a certain issue, a statement can be made at the police station and the case will go to court.

“We encourage citizens to collaborate with us and contact us if they notice anything suspicious or have any safety concerns. We try to do our best and are here to make our villages and cities safer.”

The Limassol number for the community police department is 25805285. The island-wide free number is 1460.

Article as published in The Cyprus Weekly of April 22, 2016 

Mary Anglberger

I’ve been travelling the world for over 20 years teaching English and am now taking time to follow my passion for photography and writing. I want to share all the things, events and people that have inspired and inspire me and spread those positive vibes all around.

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