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LNP: another reform needed ahead of UNMIL draw-down

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Generally, the primary duties of the police in society are to protect lives and property, as well as promote offender’s accountability by ensuring consistent law enforcement and procedures so that all crimes, including killings are investigated and addressed by the criminal justice system.

To give effect to the foregoing, laws authorize the police – by judicial authorization where appropriate, to enter premises, conduct arrest of the primary suspect(s)/aggressor(s), and confiscate weapons or dangerous substances in cases involving crimes. The police are charged by the laws to work in coordination on the response to violence with advocates, health care providers, criminal justice actors, including prosecutors, child protection services, local businesses, the media, employers, religious leaders, health care providers, clergy and organizations working with victims and immigrant communities.

In short, regarding the roles of the police, the core functions include enforcing the law, keeping the peace and protecting life and property.  In view of the foregoing and regarding performance, the Liberian security sector is currently at the core of harsh criticism, Despite being trained by Liberia’s international partners, including the United Nations Mission in Liberia, United States, as well as the Federal Republic of Nigeria, among others, the performance of the Liberia National Police continues to be generally characterized by corruption, harassment/intimidation, as well as the inability to incorporate the rules of engagements in consonance with the professional standards.

The unacceptable attitudes most often exhibited by officers- men and women- in the field continue not only to raise eye-brows in Monrovia and its environs, but discourage and disrepute such post-war force to the displeasure of the President of Liberia and the population.

This is why the respect, honor and dignity that befit the men and women in uniforms continue to completely diminish in the eyes of the Liberian public.  We must make it emphatically clear that our opinion as an institution does not suggest any hatred or animosity for the Liberia national Police; or even intended to undermine the existence of the current national police force, but to identify these short-comings ahead of the 2016 draw-down of the United Nations Mission in Liberia to stimulate the desire of the country’s leadership and primary actors of the Liberian criminal justice system to reassess the police for renewal.

Listening to the radio network and reading local and international reports, it is no secret that the misconduct of the men and women in the field against citizens, commercial drivers, as well as others and the conspicuous silence and inability of the police hierarchy to ensure real discipline among these police men and women across the country are just indicative of the high public sentiments against the police in general.

Such unfortunate situation may just be creating insecurity not only along the borders and high ways, but our respective cities, especially the Capital.

Amid this worrisome security situation, especially in the wake of UNMIL’s draw-down come 2016, the need for a ‘top-to-bottom’ reform of the Liberia National Police and other security apparatus cannot be re-emphasized.

As we call for this reform, the issue of capacity-building for the men and women in the field – logistics, attractive salaries and incentives, as well as accommodation (especially those assigned at the borders), among others must also take prominence in the reform process. In so doing, the must be no opportunity on the part of the top brass of the LNP and other security apparatus to circumvent such issue following the reform process or else, a recurrence of the current misconduct or bad attitudes would be imminent.

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