Police Director Col. Chris C. Massaquoi, is calling for collaboration between the Liberia National Police or LNP and the elite presidential guard – the Executive Protection Service or EPS, roughly three weeks after a shocking near-gun-battle ensued between the police and EPS officers assigned with President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.
At the state funeral of late Liberian Ambassador Rudolf Precious vonBallmoos on Saturday, 9 January, armed Police and EPS officers pointed long range raffles at one another in a tense standoff following the alleged collision of Mr. Massaquoi’s vehicle with an EPS vehicle marked EPS-70.
Eyewitnesses said pedestrians and drivers ran helter-skelter during the near-gun-battle incident at the First United Methodist Church down Ashmum Street in Monrovia following which President Sirleaf directed the suspension of heads of the presidential and police director’s motorcades, while an independent commission probes the incident.
But welcoming 100 new recruits of the EPS at the National Police Training Academy in Paynesville, outside Monrovia on Tuesday, 26 January, the police chief pleaded with the EPS, the army, immigration, corrections and private security agencies to work together rather than against one another in order to achieve the “overall national security objectives of the state.”
Mr. Massaquoi argued that “without collaboration,” security agencies’ work as national and private institutions would suffer hindrances that he fears “may oftentimes lead to unnecessary delays in delivering the vital and professional services the society expects of us.”
He suggested that collaboration within the security sector must be supported by cooperation and coordination, two elements that he says are very important in achieving the intended goals of securing the state.
Mr. Massaquoi also called for discipline and courtesy among security officers, as he particularly addressed the new EPS recruits, saying they are necessary for maintaining cohesiveness within any military or para-military organization.
“These are the hallmarks that demonstrate to those outside of our profession, the true nature of who we are, and must therefore be always displayed wherever we find ourselves in the presence of superior,” he stressed.
He told the EPS recruits that their presence at the NPTA was to help prepare them as UNMIL folds up by June this year, leaving civil security primarily in the hands of the police, but ably supported by other national security services.
He assured that the EPS recruits will receive best basic police training at the academy, having instructed the academy instructors to be “no nonsense instructors” and not joke or compromise anything in the course of training.
The proxy for EPS Director Frank O. Nyekan at the ceremony, EPS Chief Administrator Mark Kollie urged the recruits to pay keen attention to the training they will have to undergo. He clearly told the recruits that to become VIP protector, you must go through basic police training course, reminding them that there are rules governing the academy that they must abide to.
“We can only hope, all of you will graduate, abiding by the rules – one of which has to do with your academia. You must pass the course and the rest has to do with discipline and courtesy,” Mr. Kollie told the EPS recruits.
He warned them strictly that if any recruit is thrown out of the academy, he or she will be out and there is no way anybody can influence any decision to have them back at the academy. He says EPS instructors are also part of the training course. The recruits include 15 females and 85 males.
By Winston W. Parley-Edited by Jonathan Browne