'I Fought the Law, and the Law won': Community Policing in Dire Dawa, Ethiopia

This paper examines the introduction of community policing in Dire Dawa, Ethiopia, and the relationships in the district between formal policing structures and non-state security actors. It draws on fieldwork (spring, 2017) to show that these relationships are complex – there is neither a simple dichotomy between state and non-state nor an emerging clear and hybrid system. Rather, the institutional multiplicity available gives a series of choices to those seeking justice and also to those providing it. The community police initiative offers a positive way of reducing friction between the different policing providers – by acting as an interlocutor, but also by recognising the legitimacy of local actors in some instances and enforcing the state’s legitimacy in others. In this way, local providers can use local actors to enhance their reach and effectiveness but also to extend the reach of the state and the legitimacy of the law at the local level.