A security expert based in the United States is calling for the rebranding and image building of the Liberia National Police (LNP) and has called on President-elect Joseph N. Boakai to undertake a vetting process for all top officers of the police force.
In light of leadership challenges and concerns about neutrality within the force, Monroe A. Dennis II has urged the incoming Unity Party government to appoint an independent panel to vet competent and qualified candidates to lead the police. Dennis referred to this process as “digging deeper into the LNP” to identify hidden professionals with the necessary skills and qualifications.
This approach aligns with President-elect Boakai’s commitment to a meritorious system and promotes best practices in the hierarchy and ranks of the force.
As the inauguration of the new regime approaches on January 22, 2024, one institution that has garnered public interest is the LNP. Over the past four or five years, the force has faced significant criticisms for being a partisan force, instead of being neutral as mandated by law.
“The public curiosity is because the LNP has, for the past four or five years, faced enormous criticisms as it relates to its neutrality as defined by the law,” Dennis noted.
With ongoing discussions about the appointment of a new police boss, Dennis believes that the President-elect should prioritize officers within the institution itself, rather than looking outside the force.
He suggests that the four Deputies Inspector Generals, as defined by the LNP Act of 2016, should be nominated or appointed from within the institution. He highlighted that there are professional officers who are seldom seen or heard of in public due to their dedication to maintaining their professional integrity and avoiding involvement in political maneuvering or lobbying.
“Those professionals can only be identified through a vetting process if the President-elect sets up a security committee or council, which is the best way forward if the Liberia National Police must be merit-driven like the Armed Forces of Liberia,” recommended Dennis.
To identify and recognize these professionals, Dennis recommended the establishment of a security committee or council, following the example set by the Armed Forces of Liberia, thus enabling a merit-driven approach for the LNP.
Since 2004, the security forces, particularly the LNP, have undergone restructuring and reform under the guidance and mentorship of the United Nations Police (UNPOL) with support from the United States government. Following the completion of basic theoretical and practical training, officers have received specialized and advanced training to enhance their leadership abilities.
Moreover, the UNPOL, in collaboration with the UN Mission to Liberia, has facilitated international training opportunities for the police force, enabling officers to attend prestigious law enforcement institutions worldwide. Some of these law enforcement institutions are in the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, China, and France.
Additionally, UNDP, with funding from the Irish Government, established an agreement with the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration in 2014 to offer a Post-graduate Diploma and Certificate in Public Administration to officers of the Liberia National Police, further developing their leadership skills.
Dennis also highlights the continuous support from the United States government, through the Bureau of International Narcotic and Law Enforcement Affairs, which has provided ongoing local and international training to officers of the LNP, as part of their capacity-building programs. Furthermore, the German Government has allocated funding to the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Center to train over 200 senior police officers in leadership and conflict resolution.
These various opportunities have allowed police officers to enhance their education and qualifications, with some even obtaining Bachelor’s, Master’s, Law, and even Doctoral degrees.
Given the significant support and sponsorship from the international community and friendly nations for capacity building and knowledge enhancement, Dennis believes that President-elect Boakai’s administration should thoroughly explore the talent within the Liberia National Police when nominating new leadership for the force.