Officers of the Liberian National Police have told the Daily Observer that they are used to doing the dirtiest work without so much as a glance from the government.
Expressing disdain over the impoverished condition in which they find themselves, the officers (who asked for anonymity) said in separate interviews that each officer only receives one uniform set upon graduating from training at the Police Academy.
They said because each officer owns only one set, they appear dirty and the public does not have respect for them.
“Besides this one uniform set we get after our training, we receive no other uniform and are cautioned to maintain the one we have until otherwise,” a female officer said.
The officer complained, “Up to this date government still depends on foreign aid to get uniforms for its police.”
According to the officer, “We are often ashamed to carry out arrests as people insult us over how we look dirty in our faded uniforms; a situation that does not bestow respect upon us as officers of the law.”
Another female officer also told this paper that the only groups of LNP officers privileged to have extra uniforms are those of the Police Support Unit (PSU) and the Emergency Response Unit (ERU).
“These units —one of which I am a part — are trained in other activities including crowd and riot control. Thus, officers therein are provided with benefits that the rest of the Liberian National Police do not have,” she explained.
According to her, the one benefit ERU, PSU and ordinary LNP officers have in common is the insurance that covers an officer and his/her immediate family members (husband/wife and children).
“You tell me, what becomes of your only suit if you continue using it throughout the week? You wash it over and over with no other pair to wear. It will surely fade; as seen on officers standing in the streets directing traffic and performing other duties. It is not that police cannot keep clean; it is that the government is not caring for us,” the female officer asserted.
A male officer who runs a taxi during the day and reports to work at ight also confirmed receiving a single uniform set during graduation and nothing else afterward.
“We should receive uniforms every six months. I have three pairs, two of which I bought myself in a store along UN Drive. We earn less than US$130, and for each pair of uniforms I paid by installment the amount of US$20 for four months,” the officer said.
According to the officer, the faded pair given to him during graduation is the one he uses at work, while the two new pairs are used for occasions and to visit his people.
On the issue of maintenance of vehicles, the officers were of the unanimous view that foreign donors have given more vehicles to the police, but reckless driving has left them in poor condition.
Reacting to the complaints, Police spokesperson, Sam Collins, admitted that an officer receives one uniform during graduation and attributed the cause to a limited budget.
“It is true Police officers receive one set of uniform each, this happens because we receive money for only 600 uniforms,” Mr. Collins said.
He said uniforms provided are strictly intended for people entering into the force from the Police training academy.
Mr. Collins said during the 2013 budget, the LNP put in for US$25 million and only got US$14 million. He revealed that about US$12 million went to personnel while US$2 million goes to operations.
He said on many occasions the Police Director, Col. Chris Massaquoi, has stressed the need for logistics for the Liberian National Police (LNP); part of that would include officers receiving more uniforms. Unfortunately budget constraints cannot allow LNP authorities to meet the needs of officers.
He, however, dismissed the notion that Government was insensitive to the plight of LNP officers.