Liberia’s Police Director Chris C. Massaquoi has questioned the rationale behind the deployment of foreign troops here following the drawdown of UNMIL forces.
He says if the African Union or AU or the ECOWAS – headed by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, is behind this move, the continental or regional body should rather directs its funding intended for such operation towards Liberia’s national security.
Director Massaquoi argued, Thursday, 4 August, that excluding other national security agencies and the army here, the police alone has well -trained Emergency Response Unit (ERU), Police Support Unit (PSU) and other professional units that only require adequate budgetary and logistical support for more robust operations.
While UN Peacekeepers were officially handing over security responsibilities to Liberia, Justice Minister Cllr. Frederick D. Cherue cautioned citizens against panic and fear on grounds that the government was capable of managing the security of the country, and that the UN had already established a regional quick reaction force based in Ivory Coast to respond to threat in the host country and Liberia.
But during the opening of a three – day internal police assessment retreat at the Liberia National Police Training Academy or LNPTA in Paynesville Thursday, Director Massaquoi indicated that if it is AU or ECOWAS that is making the decision to have foreign troops come here, they should take the money and support Liberia’s security capacity.
For a police force of more than 5,000 officers, the Police Director noted, the government allotted a US$15m budget – out of which he complained that US$14m went towards salaries payment alone, with just US$1m left as operational fund.
“There’s severe capacity deficit that we need to look at this retreat and not just theory,” he told a gathering of officers and international partners, adding that about 20 families are crying every morning about armed robbery attack and police have limited capacity to respond timely to such situations.
As far as the Director was concerned, the Liberia National Police or LNP has had enough training and as such, retreats, workshops and trainings were not the problems right now, as he suggested the need to focus on support towards capacity.
“Are we satisfied? If you are satisfied, I’m not satisfied,” he queried saying, “How the police can sit in Monrovia with just five patrol vehicles.” Citing all of the challenges the police face and the high wave of criminality here, Director Massaquoi sent out an open challenge for anyone to walk down Broad Street at night, saying criminals have taken over Broad Street and police cannot control Monrovia due to lack of capacity.
He cited an instance wherein the Crime Services Division or CSD of the Liberia National Police is allotted a budget of just US$500, and wondered how one expects the CSD to be effective with just US$500 budget.
He said a country can have a police director with ten PhDs, but that director will still remain ineffective once the police force cannot get adequate support. Earlier, speaking, Police Chief for Project DCP Fitzgerald T.M. Biago said the objective of the retreat was to identify police weaknesses and strength, as well as make recommendations at the end of the retreat.
By Winston W. Parley-Edited by George Barpeen