Police Inspector-General (IG) Gregory B. Coleman has told the Daily Observer that his initial approach to combating and drastically reducing crime is the removal of ‘zogos’ from the streets of Monrovia.
Zogos for males and zogesse for females, are a group of Liberians who live on the streets of Monrovia and other major cities in Liberia mainly relying on picking pockets, serving as mediators between taxi cab operators and passengers, and hijacking for survival.
They prey on mostly the vulnerable, including women, the elderly and children, whenever able-bodied men or law enforcement officers are not around.
They forcibly take away ladies’ handbags or snatch mobile phones and other valuables, including jewelry, from their victims.
Most of these zogos who, until three weeks ago, used to be on every major street in Monrovia, could be seen ‘high’ on illicit substances including marijuana, heroin and crack cocaine.
Right after Col. Coleman took over from former Police IG Clarence Christian Massaquoi, zogos and zogesse took to their heels and fled the streets. Col. Coleman had ordered his officers to get them off the streets of the capital city. LNP officers went further to demolish known ghettoes in and around Monrovia thereby scattering these delinquents.
Speaking to this newspaper in an exclusive interview on Tuesday, October 4, after Mr. Zhang Yue, Ambassador of China to Liberia had made a US$2 million donation to the LNP Col. Coleman stated that the removal of zogos from the streets was his initial engagement in making the city crime-free.
He disclosed that this strategy will be followed by further engagements with other partners; adding: “We are going to be looking to other partners for accommodation for these guys, rehabilitate them and put them back into the society so that they can make their meaningful contributions.
“But for now, crime is on the increase and we need to have a control over that situation. An immediate action is to see a massive reduction in crime,” he stated.
Earlier, Col. Coleman had attended the signing of the Exchange of Notes ceremony between the governments of Liberia and China during which Chinese Ambassador Zhang disclosed that his government was donating US$2 million to the LNP. The donation will come in batches of police supplies.
According to IG Coleman, the donation will boost the nation’s security sector as it is coming at a time when the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), which used to be in charge of the country’s security, has turned over all security responsibilities to the Liberian government, of which the LNP is a prime actor.
The Police IG further stated that the Chinese have proven that they are indeed standing with Liberia in sustaining its fragile peace.
“We are very thankful for this gesture. I can assure you that it will be accounted for and used for its intended purposes,” Colonel Coleman stated.
He assured the Chinese Diplomat that as UNMIL transitions, his administration will do everything to properly take care of every item that will be provided to assist the LNP in creating a safe environment.