— To help beef up national security
A security expert and former commander of the National Security Agency (NSA) is stressing the need for the government to permit officers and agents of a select group of top private security firms operating in the country to bear arms—a a move that he believes will help beef up security efforts across the country, especially Monrovia, which is prone to incidences of crime.
Former NSA regional commander, who is also the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and General Manager of Security Expert Guard Agency of Liberia (SEGAL), Momo T. Cyrus, says the national security apparatuses, including the Liberia National Police (LNP), Liberia Immigration Service (LIS), the National Security Agency (NSA and others do not have the man-power, capacities and capabilities to adequately provide security to the Liberian state and its people.
“We therefore need to see how best private security officers of top companies who are well trained and experienced can be armed to buttress the efforts of our national security apparatuses. This is a call to our government that it needs to consider because it will be of great help to not just the government but the country.” he said.
Mr. Cyrus made the appeal at the program marking the achievement awards ceremony in Aviation Security, Basic AVSEC STP 123 Course held at a local resort in Lower Margibi County last weekend. The audience witnessed the certification of 25 senior level officers of SEGAL who recently completed the course.
The SEGAL boss used the occasion to call on the government for collaboration that that will ensure that private security officers to be more involved in the security of the state.
“There is an immediate need for a strong collaboration between private security companies in the country and the government. We need a few selected private security officers to be armed,” he said.
Mr. Cyrus is an experienced NSA serviceman with a demonstrated history of working in the security and investigations industry. He is skilled in crisis management, budgeting, operations management, government, and personal security. He served the NSA from 1992 through April 2006.
He became the regional commander in March 2004 until his retirement. While serving as commander, he was responsible for the oversight of security operations of NSA operatives in Grand Bassa, Margibi and River Cess Counties.
He said that enforcement and private security partnerships are being practiced around the globe and there is a need for it in Liberia. “We are calling the Ministry of Justice to act now,” he said.
“The reason for this collaboration is that officers of private security firms are in far larger numbers than officers of the various national security apparatuses. And 65% of private security officers are former service men and women of the country—this means that they are well trained, experienced and disciplined,” he said.
Law enforcement agencies and private security partnerships, he said, will increase manpower and resources in order to prevent crime, maintain law and order, and ensure safety, peace and security.
The call for private officers to bear firearms was being considered during the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf administration in an effort that was being pushed by then Defense Minister Brownie Samukai. He noted at that time that the need was pressing because of the level of crimes that were being perpetrated—a situation some believe is even worsening.
Others are also opposing this idea because, according to them, the country is still recuperating from the effects of war and allowing non-state security to bear arms would pose a danger to public safety.
Mr. Cyrus, who is widely known as a very aggressive private security solutions provider, said that such collaborative effort would help relieve government of some of the security stresses that it is currently experiencing. “We are of the strongest conviction that this collaboration would ensure some of the stresses are relieved of government and the police in terms of maintaining law and order,” he added.
Private security officers, Mr. Cyrus noted, have got enough experience and knowledge to partner with government to help beef up national security efforts.
It is believed that when this is done, it would lead to formal coordination agreements describing the mechanisms for exchanging information regarding vulnerabilities and risks; use community policing initiatives, strategies, and tactics to identify suspicious activities related to crime and terrorism.
The MOU would also establish a crime prevention information command center to coordinate the flow of information to all partners. Private security industry is the industrial version of law enforcement.
Mr. Cyrus said government stands to benefit more from such collaboration when sealed. If this partnership takes place, it will be our fervent request that the government provide the opportunity for a select group of private security officers to bear arms. “We are talking about well trained and experienced officers of reputable firms.
“There are a lot of incidences of crime that could be prevented if private security officers are given arms. They are most times around places of crime but won’t intervene because they are unarmed,” he said.
The SEGAL CEO noted that the perception Liberians and few others have that the country is still fragile is false and is not helping the development of the country. “We have had three successive elections and are somehow doing pretty well. Why are we still considering ourselves as a fragile nation? This is unfair to us. We must start to do what others around us are doing to develop their nation.”
Stressing the issue of human capacity development, Mr. Cyrus said there is one value that SEGAL continues to champion and that is “training, retraining and building the capacities of our officers. We will continue to do this till the end of time. The LAA is talking about training the officers every two years, but we are doing ours every six months.”
He indicated that SEGAL has started working out modalities to send three of its supervisors to Nigeria in a partnership deal with the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority for months where the top officers will have the opportunities to get outside experiences.
“We all know that theory is different from practical in acquiring knowledge. So we want our men to go and see how others are doing it out there get practical knowledge and first hand information, come back and teach others.
Assistant Minister for Administration at the Ministry of Justice, Edrick Noah, said that the government will look at the recommendation critically and see what can be done. He noted that there is a need for collaboration to help augment the security forces in the country.
Mr. Noah, who proxied for Justice Minister Musa Dean, lauded the graduates for the achievements.
AVSEC Manager at Liberia Aviation Authority, Nuah E. Padmore, lauded SEGAL for doing exceptionally well during the training. “I’m impressed with what this company is doing in the country. I have been monitoring SEGAL’s progress and I’m glad because the company has a unique program,” he said.
The trainer, Samson Udom Essien, praised the SEGAL officers for their outstanding performances, noting that they are the best he has seen in his professional trainers’ life.
“In my 19 years in the Aviation Industry, I have never conducted an AVSEC training that all participants both male and female were so enthusiastic in learning. Of course, this was why all the participants completed the training successfully, which was also my first experience,” he said, adding that he is glad that SEGAL now has well trained and willing to work personnel in the Aviation Security sector.