9 November 2012

Liberia: Police Unequipped - Crime Increases

The security gap posed by UNMIL's drawdown from Liberia leaves a serious challenge for the country; with the Liberia National Police being 'unequipped' to effectively fight armed robbery and other crimes.

Following weeks of continued public criticism against the LNP for armed robbery incidents and criminal attacks on residents, Liberia's Police Director Chris C. Massaquoi has called for appropriate and adequate equipment for the police to effectively [respond] to armed robbery and other crimes across the city.

Speaking during a news conference at the Information Ministry Thursday in Monrovia, Director Massaquoi reported that armed robbers are becoming increasingly sophisticated... as such the police must be able to meet the challenges with greater effectiveness.

He said the LNP can only do so when the institution is properly and adequately equipped to carry out its duties, questioning "How effective and protective can a baton wearing police officer go against an AK 47 carrying armed robber?"

The latest incident of armed robbery occurred this week in the Old Road community when over 10 armed thieves burst into a private residence, stole thousands of US and Liberians dollars, including cell phones, laptops and chopped up the ears of one of the occupants before escaping the scene.

Besides the lack of equipment, Director Massaquoi said most of the officers serving in the Police Support Unit (PSU) and the Emergency Response Unit (ERU) are overly stretched, especially as a result of the [Ivorian] crisis.

"Right now we have a very huge number of ERU and PSU officers deployed at the borders. And we have to rely on the number of officers we have here to be able to fight this armed robbery", he explained.

Contrary to public concerns, the police chief argued that the LNP has been very vigilant in discharging its duty, saying the response time to armed robbery and other crimes reports have reduced to "between 25 to 15 minutes."

But Massaquoi maintained that the police cannot be everywhere at the same time when a crime is being perpetrated, especially as a result of address system in Liberia. He said the LNP has come under critical and sometimes harsh criticism from segments of the society for allegedly doing nothing to curb the ...public menace against residents.

"The statistics on armed robbery during the period under review indicate that there was an increase; we must admit in armed robbery... as compared to 2011, and not necessarily an actual increase of armed robbery incidents," said Masaquoi.

He however said in the wake of the growing armed robbery in Monrovia and across the country, the LNP has introduced a more vigorous approach to mitigate these alarming concerns.

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