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De-politicizing the office of the police IG

A bill to amend Chapter 22 subsection 22.76 (a) of the Liberia National Police Act of 2015 is currently before the House of Representatives. Submitted by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, it specifically seeks to close a gap in the current Police act that gives no tenure for the Inspector General of Police, but to serve at the will and pleasure of the President.

For too long the director of police, now Inspector General has operated at the will and pleasure of the President, rather than serving the state. Not only in the Sirleaf administration, but in all previous administrations this has been the practice.

We strongly believe that as a public institution, the police should serve for the general good of the public by protecting lives and property as well as maintaining law and order.
But when the head of this important institution is mandated by law, like the case of Liberia, to function at the caprices of whomever that sites at the Executive Mansion, society will always feel threatened because the IG, for obvious reasons, becomes the President’s rod that he or she would use at will to strike opposing voices, particularly in a tyrannical regime.

Additionally, if the IG does not have tenure of office, he cannot draw up a comprehensive long-term plan for the LNP. Therefore, he runs the organization haphazardly, leaving his time in office squarely at the pleasure of the President. If we want to build an efficient and effective police force as a nation, this has to change! Those appointed to lead our national security apparatus should serve with clear tenure that could enable the public to gauge performance.

The head of police may have resources at his or her disposal, but when there is no timeframe within which to plan and execute detail national security agenda, resources could be expended on vehicles, office furniture and other areas that may not impact the entire country. We believe an amendment in the law to establish a tenured office for the police chief would not only give the IG the leverage he needs and deserves, but go a long way in capacitating the LNP leadership to run a professionally efficient police organization.

Liberia, currently enjoying more than 10 years of democratic governance and tranquility, cannot afford to have those leading its police and other national security institutions function without a defined tenure and agenda on where to take the security of the state in the next 10, 15 or 20 years that would bring pride not only to this present generation, but posterity.

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