I fought the law and the law won: Evidence on policing communities in Dire Dawa, Ethiopia

Paul Jackson, Demelash Kassaye, Edward Shearon

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This article examines the introduction of community policing in Dire Dawa, Ethiopia. It shows that the relationship between the security actors within the district is a complex one that neither represents a simple dichotomy between state and non-state, nor an emerging clear and hybrid system. Rather it is a negotiated arrangement between a top-down, statist ideology and local forms of justice process, a balance that has historically characterized Ethiopian internal security for decades. The community police initiative offers a positive way of reducing friction between the different policing providers through acting as interlocutors but also enforcing the state’s legitimacy in others. Local providers can use local actors to enhance their reach and their effectiveness but also extend the reach of the state and the legitimacy of the law at the local level constructing a negotiated ambiguity between central control and local agency in policing.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1
Pages (from-to)126-143
Number of pages18
JournalBritish Journal of Criminology
Issue number1
Early online date11 Aug 2018
Publication statusPublished - 11 Aug 2018


  • Africa
  • Ethiopia
  • Hybrid approaches
  • Traditional authorities
  • community policing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Social Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Law


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