When Police Inspector General or IGP Col. Gregory Coleman unaccompanied by body guards, decided to pursue a bus driver who had not only violated traffic rules, but had also put his personal life in danger, little did the conductor and his passengers know that the man addressing them was the Liberian Police chief.
But it probably became more surprising to the bus driver and his passengers, when the Police Chief Col. Coleman took his own time first to apologize to the passengers for wasting their time, and then provided them some education as to why he was arresting the driver.
That was just not all, it got even more interesting that wet Tuesday afternoon, 13 June, 2017 when Col. Coleman provided a police bus to drop the passengers off to their destinations, while carrying on the arrest of the bus driver whom he had pursued over a long distance.
Many of the passengers onboard could not believe that what they were experiencing was taking place right on home soil-Liberia and most of all by the Police chief himself. This is because under the old system the police chief would have sent a pick-up load of officers to pilot the bus to the police headquarters with all passengers onboard.
He or she would not stop for a second to think that those onboard were in as much danger as he or she was.No, Col. Coleman did not. He presented himself as a servant of the people and showed them a great deal of respect, something which has been lacking within our police force for a century, especially from such a high profile officer.
Col. Coleman’s display of respect for the passengers onboard that bus on Tuesday, 13 June, is a reflection of the changes now taking place within the Liberia National Police.
It has been nine months since his ascension to the police top job. His appointment has heralded in a new dispensation for a force that has almost lost its respect among the civilian population.
Most of them were being regarded as mere beggars on the streets. But the storyline of the police force is changing. Of late, there are some semblance of high degree of professionalism among the men and women in uniform. The painting of even the police vehicles in itself tells the story of the transformation taking place at the LNP.
With a tight budget or limited resources, Col. Coleman and his team are demonstrating how a-cash scrapped administration can manage the little they have to achieve great results one at a time.
“We’re trying to deliver internationally acceptable policing service to the people”, Col. Coleman says.Flanked by two of his most senior deputies and the LNP spokesman, Col. Coleman says delivering those services to the citizens require the establishment or a connection with the people.Indeed there has been a disconnect between the general public and the police force-something spurred by distrust.
Col. Coleman acknowledges this to a point. He realizes the problem that the distance between the police force and the general public had been due to actions by the police against the very people they should be protecting.To change this image, Col. Coleman says he had to begin from in house-changing the mindset of the men and women in uniform, ensuring that they know their purpose and duty to the people they serve.
The police have since embarked on community-police relations, a move that stresses family values. “So those are things that we are working on that have increased the motivation of officers for you to see the level of performance that you’re now seeing out there,” Col. Coleman says.
“And moreover,” he adds, “everyone on the team has had the same experience especially people who are positioned along the line to be able to carry key functions. So in communicating with any of them down here is not difficult. “Humility brought me here, humility will keep me
He considers an effective communication with the people as a key factor in helping the police force to win the support and confidence of the people-something he demonstrated as afford mentioned. He is strongly discouraging police harassment and intimidation. Col. Coleman would look you straight in the eye, and would smile a little as he stresses his next point with humility.
Col. Coleman joined the police force in 2001, at the time enforcement was not necessarily on the basis of the law. This was the period of a despot-jailed ex-president Charles Taylor where law and order was nothing to write home about.But he did not allow the regime to make him. He remains humble and serves his seniors with humility as he mentioned earlier.
Col. Coleman appears to be very innovative and doesn’t look like the proud and arrogant type of leader. Even during our interview the IG and one of his subordinates were seeing browsing through a phone and bombing each other on the shoulders.There seems to be a great due of mutual respect between him and his deputies.
For a man who began his law enforcement career under a rogue regime riding in pick-up backs and serving as bodyguard and rising up to a commander, Col. Coleman says there’s nothing magical about the level of cooperation he is getting from his colleagues. “It’s just about us being understanding each other”. He says.
His ability to listen before he speaks was noticed during our interview.One thing you would also notice about Col. Coleman is that he doesn’t appear like one whose power and authority has gone into his head.“The Inspector General of police job is the most obedient job one can ever get,” he says, adding, “because you are in a public institution that is governed by laws.”
Cognizant of these facts, he says even if he wanted to play around, by virtue of the responsibility given him by the president and sanctioned by the Liberian Senate, he cannot afford to do things outside the scope of his duty.“I can be charged for anything here just by omission. So I can’t choose what I will or will not do”, Col. Coleman says.
The way the organization is being run today could tell why the Police Headquarters can now boast of its own gym, a restaurant with one of the best ambiences and Liberian cuisines one can think of.Visitors are left speechless as they leave the Liberian National Police Headquarters due to the developmental changes taking place there over time.-to be continued.
By Othello B. Garblah