01 January 2012 IAA
The new Chief of Public Security today called for a fresh start in Bahrain, announcing a new push on improving community policing throughout the country. In a special New Year message marking his appointment, Tariq Alhassan announced that 500 extra officers would be recruited from all sections of Bahrain society to boost community relations. The officers will wear distinctive uniforms and only police the local area from where they have been recruited. "The task now after the BICI report is to look at where we've gone wrong, to face our mistakes and learn lessons," Alhassan said.
"The first part is to reinforce our relationship with the community and also enhance our performance and capabilities with training. We're going to find 500 men and women from all local communities in Bahrain to reinforce our community service police and they will be our conduit with the community as well." He added: "There must be soft policing as well as hard policing." Alhassan has 30 years experience in Bahrain's police force, and has studied public security issues at universities in both the US and UK.
This month he will be joined in reforming the police service and implementing the BICI recommendations by international 'super cops' John Timoney and John Yates. The new Chief of Police said that "significant progress" had already been made on implementing the BICI recommendations, including referring officers accused of abuse to public prosecutors. "I am determined to make people understand that we have a responsibility to insure that whoever breaks the law will be held accountable, whether it is a private citizen or a policeman," he added. Alhassan said that there would also be programs to reach out to Bahraini youth.
Overall, he said he was hopeful about the coming year: "I look at it very positively. On the surface it might look very difficult, but I think many people have realised that there is a democracy in Bahrain --‐ maybe not the same as the UK or US --‐ but there is a process. And I think people need to engage and His Majesty has shown us more than once that he is willing to listen, he doesn't shut the door on anyone." "There should be consensus, though. Bahrain is not just one community, not just one sect; it is a mixture of communities and sects. All have to engage and participate in the process." "We are here to make sure that there is rule of law in Bahrain, but we will be doing that while working with the community and in partnership with them."