President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has vowed to increase the budget for the security sector, including the Liberia National Police (LNP) in this coming budget year.
She stated that the past budget year was a tough one “because of the elections, because of the need for added security and other priorities. So those things constrained us a bit.”
Nevertheless, the Liberian leader committed her government to increasing the security sector budget in the coming budget year and challenged members of the security sector in return to remain “loyal, patriotic, disciplined, honest and hardworking. We owe you something and you owe us something,” she declared.
The President admitted that there were still challenges facing her government to provide all the necessary logistics that would make the Liberian National Police force a more efficient one.
The President spoke yesterday at the first Liberian National Police (LNP) Appreciation Day, held at the Police Training Academy in Paynesville City.
The Liberian leader urged the police to build a cordial relationship with people in the communities so that when there are problems, community members can run to the police and not be afraid of them.
The President warned the police: “Let me tell you, no government official has the right to ask a police officer to arrest a citizen without a warrant. If a someone, whether a Minister or whoever, comes and tells you to arrest a citizen, please tell that person to go to the court to bring an arrest warrant, otherwise you do not do it.”
She assured the police that her government was committed to giving them all the needed support.
Speaking earlier, Justice Minister and Attorney General Christiana P. Tah, stated: “In this moment of transition, when the presence of the United Nations will sooner or later be withdrawn or significantly reduced, increased responsibilities will be shouldered by you to ensure the sustainability of the justice and security component of our system.”
Justice Minister Tah further stated that the Liberian police officers were expected to begin to take ownership of the affairs of the LNP and all its activities so that at the time of final drawdown, they would be fully prepared.
Also speaking, Acting Police Inspector General Chris Massaquoi stated that the Liberian National Police was standing before great men and women having gone through some tough challenges.
He praised members of the LNP for exemplifying themselves as ‘true patriots’ in the discharge of their duties to the state.
Nevertheless the Acting Inspector General Massaquoi admitted that despite “occasional shortcomings” of some of the LNP officers, the LNP had always handled difficult challenges in rendering professional services.
He urged his junior officers to continue to uphold their statutory mandate in protecting lives and properties.
The Inspector General thanked the donor community, including the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) for helping to make the police force a professional one and added: “We beg that you do not leave us now as you know that we have not fully reached our desired goal.”
For her part, Madam Ellen M. Løj, Special Representative of the UN Secretary General, said that the contribution of the LNP was critical to the health of Liberian society, for its lasting democracy toward a lasting peace.
The SRSG stated that despite the many challenges the LNP faced in 2011, its officers consistently showed sound judgment as they performed their duties.