President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has urged officers of the Liberia National Police (LNP) and communities to engage in order to improve police-community relations.
Speaking at the joint graduation ceremony of the 43rd class of the LNP and the 1st class of the Drug Enforcement Agency or DEA, at the National Police Training Academy on Saturday, October 24, 2015,
the president said “the Police should engage people in the communities; for police-community engagements improve relationship.”
She noticed that the police-community watch forum relationship is now slipping away. She noted that with the LNP having about nine zones in and around Monrovia, she anticipates that the leadership of the LNP would deploy majority of the 413 graduates at various police zones and depots in and around Monrovia, stressing that the Government, through its city mayors, commissioners, superintendents and community leaders should see them on active duty.
The Liberian leader noted that this strategy will be used by the communities to give support to the Police and the DEA officers. President Sirleaf cautioned that when these zones and depots are visited, the new graduates should be there to certify that they are actually there and working.
She promised to visit the zones and depots to make sure that they are there and doing well. She also assured that she will plan with them through their community-relations records. The Liberian chief executive commended the leadership of the LNP and the DEA for the amount of females recruited to the two paramilitary institutions.
The LNP recruited total of 92 women, while the DEA recruited 19 women, respectively that were part of the 413 graduates. President Sirleaf commended the graduates who stayed the course and completed the training. “Thank you for assisting as a professional,” she said, adding further, “We want you to be people that we can rely on even though all you need is not provided right now.”
For his part, the keynote speaker, Lofa County Senator, Stephen Zargo, who is also the chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Defense, Security and Intelligence, admonished the graduates to be reminded of the rules of engagement in sensitizing the public to work with them for improved relationship.
He urged the graduates to see law enforcement as a collective team work for the job that they have been trained to do. “As UNMIL draws down, where there are strain relations developing between law enforcement officers and civilians, with police stations set ablaze like what happened in Ganta City, Nimba County in recent time, these are not good examples,” Senator Zargo indicated.
Also speaking, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General, Mr. Farid Zarif, urged the graduates to see the amount of money spent on uniforms distributed to them and top notch training given them as an opportunity for them to serve their nation with dedication, honesty and commitment.
In separate remarks, Police Inspector General Col. Christopher Massaquoi and DEA boss Col. Anthony Suah thanked President Sirleaf for all the support and care given the security sector reform and recommended that the Certificate Program be transformed into an “Associate of Arts (AA) degree” granting program so as to give it international standard.