The reality of being a police officer in Liberia is being felt by two hundred and ninety one police officers of the graduate class of 42, who told the Daily Observer that they are yet to receive their last three months’ salaries.
“Look at me,” said a member of the Police Academy class of 42 in an interview last Friday. “I have two children but unable to make ends meet.”
The reason, he said, “is the failure of the Liberia National Police to pay our wages for the last three months.” Though the officer would not reveal his identity for fear of reprisals, he said life is just difficult for police officers going through the crisis.
The Class of 42, 291 in total, has a female population of 57. They are young people in their early twenties into their middle thirties.
Another officer, a female, told the Daily Observer, “It is easy to understand why some officers are sometimes found doing the wrong thing to survive,” which is in reference to two recent robbery incidents involving alleged police officers in New Kru Town, Monrovia.
The alleged assault involved the loss of several hundred Liberian dollars and a cell phone, and the physical violence against the victims, claiming that they violated curfew regulations.
Though the reported assault is no justification of the alleged polices assault of the victims in New Kru Town, another police officer admitted, “The fragrant disregard to pay police officers is sadly one of the factors for police abuse.”
Up to now, the Liberia National Police are yet to resolve the case to give the allegedly unpaid police some justice.
At the various police depots across Monrovia visited, affected Police officers of Class 42 expressed disappointment over the silence of the Liberia National Police, especially when they were told that Mr. Sam Collins told the Daily Observer that “the LNP does not owe any police officer.”
Mr. Sam Collins is the official spokesman for the Liberia National Police.
“All Police officers are paid through EcoBank and as far as I know, the LNP does not owe any officer,” Collins told the Daily Observer, making clarification on a cell-phone interview.
It is likely that someone is not telling the truth in this case, since the affected police officers said they are shocked by the denial by the LNP.
Also in question are funds that were expected for Class 42 officers who are involved in the Ebola fight.
Collins told the Daily Observer that not every officer is involved in the Ebola fight. So he could not explain why those who are involved, in this case, some of the Class 42 police officers, have not received their share.
“Those of us who are involved in the Ebola fight were paid only one month,” another officer said. “I’m aware BIN officers have received their share of the Ebola entitlements and they are up to date with their share.”
Another officer raised the issue of the expected UNMIL withdrawal from Liberia, in the wake of which Liberian police officers are being trained to replace them in due course.
“UNMIL officers are paid promptly,” the officer said, “but would the LNP be able to pay Liberian police officers promptly when UNMIL is completely out of Liberia?”
A retired police officer, who had twenty years’ service with the LNP, said, “It is discouraging that Liberians want Liberians to suffer in their professional calling.”