Inspector General of Police, Col. Chris Massaquoi has described as “significant” a hotline project launched by the Search for Common Ground and the Professional Standard Division (PSD) and called on the public to file in complaints about unprofessional conduct of any police officer.
Making the statement in an assertive mood during the launch of the hotline at the Liberia National Police Headquarters on February 20, Col. Massaquoi stressed that no police officer, even himself, is above the law.
He said with the law hanging above all in the land, he will not relent to investigate any officer and punish those found guilty of unprofessional conduct.
“This project is a significant one that will draw civilians close to the police, and I want to thank Search for Common Ground for that. The public should make use of this to file in any complaint about any officer who behaves unprofessionally, and we will deal with that person.
“All they need to do is to get the name of the officer, the badge number, and area of assignment,” Col Massaquoi said.
He recalled that complaints had come out against some officers who were investigated and those found to have been engaged in unethical acts were penalized while others were disrobed.
He, however, indicated that in spite of efforts made to draw civilians close to the police, many people do not file complaints when there is professional misconduct, but would take the issue to the media.
Col. Massaquoi, who appeared annoyed over media complaints about police misconduct, said it is not the proper way and it makes, “it difficult for us in authority to investigate such claims of misconduct.”
He stressed that before taking an issue to the media, the Liberia National Police should be contacted before going public to the media and called on partners, including Search for Common Ground, to help disseminate the good work that police officers are doing for the country.
“Police are doing some good things in the midst of challenges here, but the good is not propagated. The public only talks bad about us and our partners who know what we do should tell the public,” Col. Massaquoi asserted.
With respect to the role of the LNP and the importance of the hotline, Search for Common Ground Director, Oscar Bloh recalled that the current members of the LNP, since 2005, have exhibited high levels of professionalism.
However, Mr. Bloh was quick to note that there are still “Bad apples” among them and the LNP should weed out those bad ones. He called on the LNP to investigate cases and reduce impunity.
He put the cost of the project at US$100,000 primarily provided by the Swedish International Development Agency.
In another statement, Dr. Thomas Jaye of the Kofi Annan Institute of Peace and Conflict Transformation said the project will enhance citizens’ trust in the LNP and called on the public to make a better use of it.
Search for Common Ground is expected to print the call center telephone numbers in abundance to circulate them in public places so citizens can call in case of any problem, he said.
The project will for now be implemented in five counties, including Montserrado, Bong, Lofa, Nimba and Grand Gedeh.