Liberia: The Untold Story of the Criminal Justice Program AME Zion Community College Now The AME Zion University


Over the past 30 years, I have carefully followed the activities of the Criminal Justice Program at the AME Zion University. I have waited patiently all these years to see, after countless information passed on to the authorities and members of the AME Zion family to look into a situation which involved the CJ Program at their University, I have seen no visible activities towards looking into the issue raised by me. I have written to the Head of the Church in Ghana, d=but to no avail. I have tried to get in touch with Rev. Umoja, the first President of the AME Zion Community College, but I have not been able to obtain from him a written documentation to the issues that you will read about here in this article.

By Charles E. King, Creator, Designer, First Chairman and First Instructor of the Criminal Justice Program, AME Zion Community College                                                                                                                                             

I have written to my alma mater about setting up a scholarship for graduates of the CJ program and used the fact that the program, the first of its kind was set up by one of their college graduates and which because the first such program on the west coast of Africa. However, when anyone looked at the AME Zion Community University and read about the program, there is no mention of Charles E. King at all and his unique involvement in the creation of the program! Thus, I became concern about why this would be the case. Why has my name and my contributions been removed from all instances when discussing the program. I have had many rumors about the fact that when the authorities were deliberating the status of the community college being turned into a university, my name came up as the creator of the program and the first chairman of the program. But that there were some people there who wanted to keep my name out of the limelight. Of course, this was just a rumor, but now the kore I think about it, the more it seems plausible.

So, then the other information I received and this was more accurate, was that the program was named after the late former Director of Police, Hon. Wilfred E. Clarke, one of my bosses during my professional career in Liberia. I was so happy for this recognition for I admire and respected his administration at the SSS as well as the Police. This was because he sent the first batch of police officers to enroll and register in the program. I knew about this because he congratulated me several times for creating the program at the college where I was also the first instructor. He always stood for truth and greatly supported me during my services under his administration.

O have decided to bring this untold story out to the public and for the graduates of their program, because one cannot hide history for long. The truth will eventually burst out from the seams of whoever is hiding the true story and robbing the situation of its true beginning.

When the AME Zion Community College first came to Liberia, brought by Rev. Fredrick Umoja, I met with him and asked why there was not a Criminal Justice Program at the Community College level. That it would be of great advantage for those entering into the law enforcement profession. Rev. Umoja state that he had not thought about such a program and it was not even in their initial plans. I then asked if Rev. Umoja approved, that I would undertake the responsibility to establish the program FREE for the community college at the time. Rev. Umoja answered that if I would be willing to start the program at the community college, do all the leg work, that he would give the permission. According to Rev. Umoja, after he had obtained the approval from the academic body in the United States, I began by meeting with various department heads, and after several months of reviews and discussion and meetings, as to the kinds of courses that would make up the program, the criminal justice program was born. 

This would be the first and only criminal justice program in the history of educational institutions in Liberia and in West Africa. I not only developed the complete program, but was appointed the first Dean/Chairman of the program and conducted the first criminal justice classes at the main building on Tubman Blvd, near the JFK Hospital. I was the lone CJ faculty from the commencement of the program until the civil war in Liberia which resulted in the closing of all schools and many of us fleeing for our safety. 

I had written a book and printed in Liberia, entitled “Constitutional Law for the Liberian Law Enforcer” the forward was written by Con. Peter Amos George, and read by the Chief Justice of the time who complemented me in a letter, after reading the book. I donated about 150 copies to the community college and after it was submitted for review and approved by the curriculum committee to serve as the first text book for the program, it was then introduced as the first text. The book covered and included the Liberian Supreme Court Decisions from its first sitting, as they related to Law Enforcement policies and procedures.  Because of my enthusiasm and dedication to the program, I printed at my own expense the book, which was to be given to the students free of charge.  For several years prior to 1989 (marking the Liberian civil war) I wrote a weekly a public safety column that was published in several newspapers in Liberia. I bonded several years of articles I had written and donated them also to be used as supplemental reference resources materials to strengthen the theoretical portion of the courses. These materials were also reviewed and approved for CJ students by the curriculum committee of the community college. 

As I looked through the criminal justice program of the AME Zion University, there is no mention of my efforts as the person who had created and started the program, nor any of his contributions to the university. Mr. King has made several attempts to contact administrators of the program, even addressing a letter to the President of the University through their website, but no reply from them.  

A few years ago, in 2016, I was one of the honorees, but not as the creator of the CJ Program at a program sponsored by the alumni association of the AME Zion University in the USA, to honor Rev. Umoja. At the program, I was recognized by Rev. Umoja during the program, as the first Chairman/Dean and Teacher of the CJ Department. He further stated “…had it not been for Mr. Charles Ebue King, the criminal justice students who were present and all others, who had received their degrees would not have had a degree in Criminal Justice.” Many of the participants at the program that evening said that they thought it was Wilfred E. Clarke, who had set up the program, that the program is named. They were all in shock. Once again it was obvious that my contribution was never known and has been omitted from the records of the university. This is certainly not fair. I have had many conversations in the past with Rev. Umoja and he himself wondered why this was the case.

I have indicated that many times to members that I continue to hold the CJ program in such high esteem despite this neglect of his contribution I have offered many times to conduct online presentations for the criminal justice program, but no one has ever taken up my offer.

I feel that it is important for the University to look into the issue I have raised here, and if they find this to be true, that the university correct the inaccuracy and make the necessary adjustments so that the students can know once and for all how their CJ program came into being.

Rev. Umoja would I am sure be proud to have been responsible for meeting Mr. King and after listening to him, and seeing his passion, to agree for him to establish the Criminal Justice Program, the first of its kind in West Africa.  I worked many days and nights to bring this program into existence. I still have much to offer the University as a result of my police and security experience in Liberia. I use to leave my business and attend to the college teaching at the time!

Post Script: Mr. King entered the John Jay School of Criminal Justice, New York City Master Degree Program, Security Management, but Requested Leave of Absence to search for his daughter separated during the Liberian Civil War.

Further investigations have revealed that at one time before the Community College was given status as a university, there was a meeting held and certain prominent members of the credentialing staff were also present and that the CJ program was held in good standing and it was taken into favorable consideration for the elevation of the community college to university status. That the program content had been received well by the board members. How true this is, only those who are still alive and who were in that meeting will be able to confirm or deny what is stated here about the CJ program being one of the departments that was recognized in the evaluation to elevate the college to a university level. I stand to be corrected.


About The Author:

Charles E. King is the Creator, Designer, First Chairman and First Instructor of the Criminal Justice Program,  AME Zion Community College

Former Deputy Director of Police for CID Affairs. RL                                                                               

  Former Deputy Director of Training, NPSI (Police Academy)                                                         

Former Assistant Director of Police for Administration, R.L.                                                                      Former Assistant Director of Administration, Special Security Services, Executive Mansion                                             

Former Deputy Director for Administration, GSA,                                                                             

 Former Director, Monrovia City Police,                                                                                                    

Former Member of the President Commission on Smuggling, Narcotics  and Dangerous D

Founder and Managing Director, HAWA Security Systems Inc., Monrovia, Liberia.

BSc, Criminal Justice Administration, ASc Police Science, University of New Haven, Connecticut, USA                                                                                                                                                                                

Graduate of the Liberia National Police Academy  

Graduate FBI National Academy,  United States Secret Service, Protecting Operations Program,                                                                 

Sirchie Fingerprint Laboratories, Crime Scene Investigations/Mobile Crime Laboratory Focus