4 December 2012

Liberia's Police to Bear Arms?

The Forensic Section of the Liberia National Police (LNP) says registered arms can be assigned to police officers, opposed to public fears that the arms could be misused.

During public demonstrations at the Forensic Open-House program held at the ELWA Junction outside Monrovia over the weekend, the firearms and tool marks examiner at the Forensic Laboratory Section Terry N. Kerkulah, said the unit will detect any misuse of arms that are already registered and placed in its database.

"I can assure you that when arms are registered and placed in our database, we can assign [them] to our police officers and they will not be misused," said Kerkulah.

He however said the public do not trust "our police officers"; as such they don't want arms to be assigned to them.

There has been continuous public apprehension about arming the police, based on humiliating experiences of the conduct of security forces during the country's civil conflict.

LNP authorities had disrobed some officers for ethical transgression, while others are take before the police professional standard board for disorderly conduct.

The Government of Liberia seems not to be excited either about putting arms on the streets as they could get in the hands of criminals, particularly giving the wave of armed robbery incidents in the capital and elsewhere in the country.

But Kerkulah disclosed that the firearms and tool unit has acquired a "very new microscope" and other equipment to make its work easier in establishing evidence on the misuse of firearms.

The LNP Forensic Section reported to have tested over 7,000 classified suspects' finger prints at the forensic finger print unit on Capitol Hill, though the process is said to being done manually.

At the program, the forensic section sensitized the public against damaging crime scenes on grounds that it creates difficulties for forensics to be conducted to trace suspects.

The head of the Forensic Section Alphan B. Lumen said, many times people damage crime scenes by entering there before the arrival of the police "because they do not understand the role of the forensic section."

"If you said somebody have raped, we have to find something relating to the suspect and the victim. By that, we can be able to solve cases using the evidence gathered by the forensic method," said Lumen.

But according to him, forensic examination may point to touches and marks left behind by both suspects and others entering the crime scene, thus linking them to the incident under investigation.

He however assured the public that whatever cases they have, the forensic experts will devote their time to solving them in an effort to curtail crisis in Liberia.

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