At a glance
The OSCE Office in Yerevan began working in close co-operation with the Armenian Police in 2003 and since then has successfully implemented a number of projects focusing on the introduction of democratic policing practices.
In 2011, the Office and the Police signed a further agreement on establishing trust and co-operation between the police and population through community-based policing, furthering police education reform and enhancing public order management. Two joint OSCE-Police working groups were set up, which designed a Concept for Police Educational Reforms and a Strategy for the Implementation of a Community Policing Model throughout Yerevan.
In addition to these documents, in 2009-2011 the Office carried out surveys in a number of areas, including police-public partnerships, police accountability, police-media relations, public order management, victimization, juvenile delinquency, and domestic violence.
The Office has been actively involved in comprehensive police reform since its onset in April 2010. The 2010-2011 phase of the reform program focused on many areas, including structural and organizational changes, education, traffic safety, the introduction of a new passport system, increasing the effectiveness of measures to combat trafficking and illicit drugs, combating organized crime, corruption, money laundering and cyber-crime, and building public confidence in the police. The police are currently developing the programme for the second phase of reforms to be carried out in 2012-2014.
The official launch of the Office-supported community policing project was marked by the signing of the Agreement on the Implementation of Community Policing in Arabkir District in March 2007. Following the establishment of a pilot Community Policing Unit in Arabkir Police Department, the Office provided expertise, resources, and training, and facilitated the formation of a Citizens' Advisory Group that saw local residents find local solutions to local security problems. In an effort to bring the police closer to the local community, the Office also supported the construction of police outreach stations.
The community policing model deployed in the pilot project served as a model for rolling out community policing across Armenia. The joint OSCE-Police working group developed the Strategic Plan for the Deployment of Community Policing throughout Armenia, which was a basis for the Charter on Community Policing adopted in 2011.
In 2010 and 2011 the Office organized round-table discussions on community policing in all provinces of Armenia, which aimed to raise public awareness of the new policing model and increase awareness of the plan in a timely fashion.
To highlight the project’s new style of policing, police open days were held in the summer of 2008. As a continuation of that effort, the Office initiated a series of provincial police open days, with juveniles being the main target audience. During the program, children gained a better understanding of their local police the challenges they face. They also had a chance to discuss with police the situation in their neighborhoods and were given tours of police facilities. Other open days took place in November 2011 in the Police Department of Vanadzor in Lori Province, and will be continued throughout 2012.
In 2009, the Office organized a series of round-table talks on police-media relations throughout Armenia to raise awareness of the importance of good co-operation and to reduce mistrust between the two sides.
The provincial police and media representatives discussed various issues of concern, assessed their existing relations, highlighted problems and cited actual cases where co-operation and trust had been impeded. The difficulties and recommendations identified at the talks were consolidated into a single report to serve as the basis for determining follow-up activities.
The discussions were followed by training in four Armenian provinces for police officers dealing with media-related issues.
In 2012 the Office will organize further talks to evaluate the improvement in police-media relations.
After the refurbishment and re-equipment of the Police Centre for Induction Training, the Office embarked on facilitating the modernization of the police education system. There was a need to equip police officers with the skills required for contemporary policing, as well as to address the discrepancy between police education and practice.
The joint OSCE-Police working group reviewed the system and put forward the idea of a three-tiered Educational Complex where the lowest tier – the Police Training Center – will provide six-month induction training for non-commissioned officers. The intermediate tier – the Police College – will provide two-year education for the middle-group police officers, while the top tier – the Police Academy – will provide BA and MA programs and refresher training courses for the Police leadership.
In 2011, the first admission to the Educational Complex was organized. To ensure fair admission the Office facilitated the introduction of a new testing system, developed by leading Armenian psychologists in association with national and international police experts, and an independent Admission Commission that, alongside the police, involved the civil society and international organizations.
Upon the recommendation of the Office, the 5% limited quota for female admissions was dropped, which saw the number of admitted women significantly increase.
Furthermore, the entrenched practice of policewomen mostly working as administrative staffers will soon be broken. It will be mandatory that all new graduates, regardless of gender, must work as street police officers for one year before either continuing education in the Police Academy or applying to other police services.
To support bringing Armenia's public order management strategies, tactics and techniques into line with international best practices, the Office conducted an assessment in 2009. It focused on evaluation of the existing organizational set-up, operational procedures, human resources, and sufficiency of specialized equipment. The findings have resulted in more than 40 recommendations designed to provide effective public order management.
In 2011, the Office invited an international expert on public order management who elaborated on the use of force and negotiations, and delivered a series of trainings on POM for high-ranking police officers and trainers. By relevant decrees of the Head of the Police, the guidelines were officially adopted and disseminated across the service.