The Sokoto State Police Commissioner, Mr Usaini Gumel, said police had adopted a community policing approach and evolved ways to checkmate excesses of social media platforms.
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Gumel stated this in his keynote address as a guest speaker at the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Sokoto State Chapter congress on Saturday in Sokoto.
He said efforts were geared toward safeguarding public lives in line with the institutional mandates as well as checkmating malicious content circulation.
” It is in this direction that the I-G launched community policing in all the 36 states and 774 LG’s of the federation encompassing them to partner with the police in information sharing, ” Gumel. said.
He added that Nigeria Police also launched a cell phone application called “ Police Rescue Me App” to be on the same page with citizens’ journalism and to monitor new trends of crimes.
According to him, the application collates so many features with real-timeline locations which are being monitored 24 hours at the Command and Control Centres across the 36 states of the federation and FCT.
” The features include Emergency calls, live streaming of incidences, picture reporting and a lot more.
”Equally in place is a free toll line available 24 hours across Nigeria for the same purpose ” the Commissioner.
He described media as an important platform for conveying the feelings of society about the performance of security agencies.
He explained that police were using media outlets, like news organizations and reporters to assist in crime prevention, detection and the promotion of a positive image of the force.
According to him, police use media to communicate with the public through organized media outlets, telling the public when they need to protect themselves or how citizens can assist the police in investigations.
He said the efforts were to improve the perceptions and public trust of the Police, adding, ”however, we are often the subjects of serious public scrutiny and receive harsh assessment from the public.
” Due to their professionalism, the media actors also play a vital role in ensuring fair assessment of the security agencies, the security situation in the society, and the maintenance of law and order through their reportage.
” With the widespread of modern information and telecommunication technology, such as smartphones, digital devices and cameras, citizens have gained some power to instantly record scenarios and other real-time incidences.
” People use the gadgets to report on different media platforms, often without the requisite professional media practice skills. ” Gumel said.
The commissioner further explained that such brought to the fore the cases of unverified and false information, which is known as “fake news”.
” All are in the name of community surveillance, some citizens release controversial recorded videos or audios of incidences, especially security-related incidences.
” Some conventional field reporters have unwittingly fallen prey to such ill-conceived reportage and have gotten into trouble with their media house, ” he added.
He said that the gaps created by this situation clearly explained why police find it difficult to achieve their goals of getting it right on “media management” in totality.
” This is because social media lack rules, ethics, organization, professionalism and control.
”As these new media practices allow citizens to participate in sharing information at their own discretion.
” It’s sufficient to say that this Community Surveillance System is what are often referred as social media practices or citizen journalism.
”This is also described as “guerrilla journalism’ because it involves citizens gathering evidence and sharing their own interpretations of current events with the public.
” Police enforce the laws that keep the communities and public lives and property safe,” Gumel said.
Gumel urged journalists to support security agencies in highlighting the dangers of social media excesses and always balance reports to avoid misinforming the public and jeopardizing public peace.
He underscored the need for robust media collaboration as well as information managers to achieve an optimum level for maintaining security.