By Chioma Okezie-Okeh
When the American entrepreneur, Natalie Massenet, said, “In order to stay relevant, you have to stay open to new trends and keep educating yourself; you have to keep evolving,” what was probably in mind was the Nigerian Police Force that saw reason in sending its public relations officers across all commands and other formations to Lagos to attend a three-day intensive capacity-building workshop. The workshop, with the theme “Crime Scene Management and Conclusive Criminal Investigations – The Role of Police Spokespersons,” was organized in partnership with the Nigeria-German Development Cooperation (GIZ).
Force Public Relations Officer (FPPRO), Frank Mbah, a commissioner of police, who led the PPROs to the training, said that the training was to improve the strategic communication of PROs, enhance their knowledge in the area of forensic awareness of general crime scene management and to inculcate in PROs ethic and professionalism in handling crime scenes, especially as first responders.
Assigned to keep the spokespersons up to date was Mercy Sheila Abia, a first class graduate of Forensic Science from Amity University, Dubai, and an expert in crime scene investigation techniques.
She successfully trained 30 police public relations officers under Batch A while the remaining PROs will also be given same opportunity under Batch B in Abuja.
Some of the courses that were taught are crime scene preservation, crime scene cordoning, personal protective equipment, crime scene photography, scene sketching, scene documenting, exhibit packaging and digital evidence.
On ground to declare the training open was the Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba, who reminded the participants on the need to be versatile and have deep theoretical and practical knowledge of all aspects of policing, covering administration, operations, investigations and forensics, amongst others.
He said: “I sincerely appreciate the Head of Component, GIZ Nigeria, Gertjan de Gruijter, for GIZ’s approval and for undertaking to sponsor and organize this workshop as part of the many interventions by the organization in building and strengthening police structures and capacity in Nigeria.
“I am reliably informed by the Force Public Relations Officer, who has been interacting with the GIZ team on behalf of the Force, that the the workshop would be in two batches, with the first batch holding here in Lagos and the second in Abuja. This is for the purpose of positive intellectual impact and also in compliance with the COVID-19 prevention regulations.
Let me state that I am particularly excited about this workshop, owing to the fact that it is coming at a time when the Force is implementing a new manpower development policy, which amongst other things, focuses on improving the capacity of police personnel across all ranks, in line with new policing standards and best practices.”
He added that the training was timely and unique because it was aimed at developing robust forensic awareness and knowledge for police spokespersons. “The course also seeks to equip the participants with skills necessary for effective descriptive, analytical, and strategic communication touching on criminal investigations and procedure. This in turn will enable them to acquire relevant skills to give appropriate responses to citizens and media enquiries into matter of forensic and evidential nature connected to ongoing criminal investigations.
“I have no doubt that the 3-days workshop would, amongst other benefits, impact police spokespersons positively, particularly in the areas of strategic communication and crime scene management. Therefore, the quest for resourcefulness remains an an integral part of the objective of this course,” he said.
He encouraged the participants to take advantage of the opportunities the workshop presented to interact, cross-fertilize and broaden their skills, especially in responding to crime incidents and to fit in to the ever demanding, dynamic but necessary task of information management and public engagement, for the Force.
“I am confident that the trainees will put up their best of performance throughout the period of the training and reflect the knowledge gained in their service delivery.
The Nigeria police, under my watch, remains committed to well-thought-out and goal-driven partnership and collaborations with progressive and positive-minded organizations such as the GIZ, targeted at enhancing the professional, structural and operational capacity of the Force. The Force would sustain this relationship and open new areas of collaborations, particularly ones touching on capacities on criminal investigations, respect for human rights, access to justice for citizens, improved transparency and accountability in policing actions, and other deliberate efforts aimed at strengthening citizens’ complaint response system.’’