Will this police box be an outlier or set a new precedent for community policing?

In Japan, it’s common to see koban, or police boxes, along busy streets and within small neighborhoods. Usually built as a square-shaped, one-story building, a koban has multiple purposes in a community besides acting as a local base for police officers in the area. They are places that provide directions for lost visitors, serve as a lost-and-found, and are even available to pump up flat bike tires for the unfortunate commuter.

However, a police box has been recently built on the grounds of an Osaka elementary school, an action which has no doubt caused a stir among Japanese netizens.

▼ A sign of your typical police box in Japan.

Located in Osaka’s Moriguchi city, the police box was established at the west gate of Sakura Elementary School, which had recently been rebuilt. According to the city’s board of education, the decision to install the police box was to make Sakura Elementary School “the safest school in the country in both name and reality,” and claims that the location is the first of its kind in Japan.

In Japan, having security personnel on school premises, while uncommon, is not necessarily a new concept. However, an entire police box staffed with local officers is a different story, and the decision made by the city’s board of education has sparked discussion on Twitter. Some Japanese netizens agreed with the police box being established inside the grounds of an elementary school whereas others responded with skepticism as well as speculation:

“Those kids might grow to become the most obedient of them all.”
“Huh, I’ll wonder if they’ll patrol the school to stop instances of bullying?”
“Will the area become safer simply because there’s a police box…?”
“It’s probably safe to have a police box but I guess it begs the question of whether or not it’s actually necessary as well as if there’s any active instances of crime in the area.”
“I can see this as an idea, but I don’t think anyone has ever thought of doing something like this until now.” 

It is important to note that the board of education’s choice regarding the police box’s installation doesn’t seem to be from out-of-nowhere. In 2001, an elementary school in Osaka prefecture’s Ikeda city was the site of a disturbing stabbing incident which left eight dead and 15 injured. While it’s definitely important to pinpoint the factors which lead to crime in society, and to establish as well as directly provide resources to curb such identified factors, understandably Moriguchi City’s school board could be using the police box as a more preventative measure, given how it’s located at one of the elementary school’s entrances.

On the other hand, there hasn’t been much detail in terms of how police may get involved with the school’s affairs, or if they will at all. Since it’s facing the street, however, we expect this police box will commit to the usual duties of assisting local residents, performing regular patrols, or the rare instance of shepherding mama ducks and their ducklings.

Source: Tokyo Web via Hachima Kiko
Top image: Pakutaso
Insert images: Pakutaso (1, 2)
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