9 April 2014

Liberia: Police to Be Armed At Depots

Photo: The New Dawn
Police patrol the streets(file photo)

The Director of Police, Mr. Chris C. Massaquoi has disclosed that mob violence situation in Liberia is on the increase, alarming that there were instances wherein criminals take over police depots and stations due to lack of equipment.

He made the comment Monday, when two senior officers- Mr. Gregory Coleman and Mr. Robert Saah were promoted to high posts, as former Commissioner for operations Darlington George formally departed the force for the elite Executive Protective Service or EPS.

Director Massaquoi noted that because the police was not adequately equipped at night to respond to crimes, they often escape from citizens and deserting their assignments.

"And then, you will find our police officers running away from their own citizens; run away and leave the stations empty, because the citizens have committed several mob actions on the police. And while have they succeeded, [it's] because the police have not been equipped with the right tools to be able to do the work... ," he said.

The police chief announced that at every station in Liberia in every district, the police will be armed, drifting away from the old system where they would have to wait for response from the Police Support Unit, PSU, or the Emergency Response Unit or ERU in case of backup.

"So, we have decided that every station in Liberia, every district, will have armed officers. We are not going to wait for ERU and PSU to respond; when ERU and PSU [are] responding, it will be in addition to what we already got on ground," he concluded.

Meanwhile, Director Massaquoi has described as nonsense the in-availability of senior officers, including principal deputies when he's strangulated with decisions, he will not get them.

"Sometimes, when I'm strangulated with decisions 2 to 3 O'clock in the morning, I want to pickup that telephone and call somebody- you call 102 [deputy police director for operations] you can't get 102; you call 104 [police commissioner for operations] you can't get 104... there has been times where I call ten persons in the police I will not get them, so it's nonsense and it has to be improved, it has to stop," emphasized Director Massaquoi.

Mr. Chris Massaquoi, notwithstanding, told the newly elevated senior police officers, including Gregory Coleman, 104, and Robert Saah, 107, to do more, and not think of themselves as big-shops having been promoted.

"Do not relax; you need to do more; calling you on the telephone, we don't want [any] excuse- say I was in the bathroom and all of that. Don't come back and say my phone was not side me, you get back to your bosses in two or three hours, it's a very difficult job," he said further.

The Police Director also assured that efforts were exerted to address the issues of uniforms and accessories for the police, indicating that often, uniforms allocated for police are given to those graduating from the academy.

"So tactically, the government has not provided uniforms for the police for the last six- seven [or] eight years. So this time around, we decided to have two uniforms per officer with one set of accessories," he said.

Mr. Massaquoi said they have worked to increase the budget of the Liberia National Police or LNP to $40m from $13m initially submitted to the Finance Ministry, while he was away in Columbia. Already, he said, the budget has been partially accepted, though all $40m might not be considered by the budget committee and the Ministry of Finance.

In the budget, he said, areas the LNP didn't have motorbikes were stepped up, assuring his officers that once the issues of their credentials are undertaken, to include uniforms, badges, headgears, about 50 percent of the problems as misconduct, corruption that they are experiencing will be cut.

According to him, the LNP is also looking at deployment in the 73 districts and 15 counties, saying where two officers were deployed, they could be replaced by ten; and where ten officers were also deployed, they could be replaced by 20 or 25 officers.

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