Liberian Police, Carter Center Launch ‘Don’t Bribe A Police Campaign’
Kakata, Margibi County – As a kid, Theresa Wolokollie said she never believed the Liberian Police or trusted law enforcement in Liberia.
Report by Selma Lomax, [email protected]
“Not that I did things that were against the law, I just didn’t trust the Police,” she said.
But Wolokollie, who attended a one-day interactive meeting between some personnel of the Liberia National Police (LNP) and residents of Kakata Tuesday, left feeling better about the Police.
“I felt really pleased with the responses of the Police officers that participated,” she said.
“We felt that they were trying to provide a service that was beneficial.”
She said she thinks the one-day event was a way to create citizens’ understanding about the role of the Police.
Wolokollie said she thinks the people who attended the meeting should be more open to Police officers in their community.
“They’re not a stranger to us, and we’re not a stranger to them,” she said.
The (LNP) in collaboration with Carter Center on Tuesday launched the second round of the “Yes to peace, no to violence” and “Don’t bribe the Police” campaign in Kakata.
According to Carter Center’s Chief of Party, Pewee Flomoku, the organization will continue to working on changing the minds of people like Wolokollie through expanding the dialogues to other parts of the country.” This is our commitment. This campaign will continue in other parts of the country,” he added.
The Police-community dialogues, according to Flomoku, are aimed at addressing the questions, concerns and making citizens believe in the Police again.
Flomoku said these dialogues are mirrored after the launch of the initiative in Monrovia, which worked on building understanding between the Police and citizens.
He added that the “Don’t bribe the Police” campaign is aimed at rebranding the Police in changing the minds and altitude of people toward the Police.
“I would want to like you know that today you have a new Police, people you can go to when you have a problem.”
“Today, I would like to for you to know that the Police today are people you can share your information with; people you can regard as your friends,” he added.
Flomoku said Carter Center is looking to schedule another program in another county. He said going into troubled neighborhoods or creating awareness on the role of the Police helps create community policing.
The Police get to know the people, and it creates a positive relationship between them.
Speaking on Police alleged involvement in bribery, Flomoku said while Carter Center is against giving Police a dime, the Police should not be insulted, or be in harm’s way because of people’s actions.
Meanwhile, Liberia’s Inspector of Police, Gregory Coleman, said by creating opportunities for new understanding, interaction and learning with those who are different, the community is strengthened.
“This gathering helps to coordinate facilitate and focalize these peace-building initiatives,” Cole said. “We believe that every community would benefit from a group doing similar things.”
The purpose of bringing the dialogues to the community is to hear from people who have issues and create awareness about the work of the Police, he said.
It is important that the community members feel like they are being respected, he said. He admonished citizens to do away with violence.
“When people are misinformed, they have got no choice but to build their actions on what they know. It is time that Liberians hold together and say yes to peace and no to violence,” Coleman added.
He said the relationship between the community members and the officers is paramount.
“We want to be involved in every layer of these improvements,” Cole said. We have come here for citizens to commit to peace because Liberia is all we have.”
This campaign is part of an initiative to become engrained in the community and promote a better understanding of what the community expects from the Police, he said.
As for Wolokollie, she said she would definitely attend another session.
“This is something that is needed more in our community,” she said.