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Page added on July 4, 2012
Police Officers attached to the Port Loko Police Station have quite recently complained that political interference is seriously affecting their desire to dispense responsibilities without fear and favor.
The concerned officers made this complaint to the Attitudinal and Behavioural Change (ABC) Secretariat when the latter visited their location to sensitize them on the ‘ABC Concept’ and ‘Relevance of Political Tolerance To National Development’ in a bid to captivate them to avoid thinking, felling and behaving negatively.
Be it known that the Sierra Leone Police is an institution that has the worst public image principally because of the predominance of corrupt acts within their rank and file as evidenced in a recent report that was issued by the Anti-Corruption Commission. And it could be remembered that based on the grave misunderstanding between members of the Sierra Leone Police and the civil populace, police officers became the principal target of AFRC/RUF combatants during their January- 6- 1999 onslaught on Freetown and latest youth revolts in Mile 91, Bo, Kono, Pujehun, Bumbuna, Freetown and other parts of the country that resulted to the killing and wounding of police officers and the destruction of police stations and vehicles. Despite these fracases, it is still a reality that police officers are still committing their unacceptable acts that those they are suppose to protect say caused the highlighted pandemonium. In consequence the public remain viewing the constituents of Sierra Leone Police as direct enemies rather than protectors of their lives and properties. As such Sierra Leone Police among its counterpart security functionaries, the Sierra Leone Prisons Department and Regimental Sierra Leone Arm Forces, remains under the spell of being perceived by the public not as a ‘Force For Good’, but rather an outfit that undermines their basic human rights. Thus in their bid to help rebrand institutions whose public images have been dented due to the prevalence of negative attitudes and behaviours it obliged the ABC Secretariat to sensitize police officers affixed to the Port Loko Police Station while rapping up their tour of districts within the northern province of Sierra Leone.
Addressing the police officers the Executive Director of ABC Secretariat, Dr. Ivan Ajibola Thomas disclosed that their tour of the entire country has added credence to the ACC Report that claims that the Sierra Leone Police is the most corrupt institution, because according to him plenty inhabitants of the Western Area, Eastern, Southern and Northern Regions have in varied ways accused the police of incessantly confronting them with bad attitudes and behaviours. Dr. Thomas decried this situation because in his view the police cannot attain its objectives without the cooperation of the civilians who he said are major source of information that could lead to the proactive halting of crimes and consequent arrest of criminals. He under scored that although there might be institutions within the country that are more corrupt than the Sierra Leone Police the ACC Report claims that the Police is the most corrupt is hard to challenge since it was based on information the public, with which the police is much closer to than other institutions’ constituents, provided. He therefore advised them to be professional when dealing with the public as according to him the taxes paid by patriotic civilians are directly responsible for the day to day running of the Sierra Leone Police and hastily called on the officers to give the public value for money services. He maintained that the past brouhahas between the Police and youths in various parts of the country are an intimidation to the country’s hard-won peace which he said is accelerating national development. Dr. Ivan Ajibola Thomas urged the officers of the Port Loko Police to avoid trivializing and botching justice system in which he said they are expected to play a pivotal role. On their role in the forth coming 2012 Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Council elections the Executive Director of ABC Secretariat, Dr. Ivan Ajibola Thomas cautioned the police officers to remain apolitical and put measures in place so that it could be conducted peacefully. Furthering his lecture he enticed his audience to explore avenues to acquire higher skills and academic qualifications which he said would opportune them to higher promotions and consequently preferable salary scales. Ending his lectures Dr. Thomas pleaded with the officers to be courageous, respectful, opportunistic, salvaging and serviceable while discharging their responsibilities which he said are complex and involving.
Addressing the police officers the National Coordinator and Second-In-Command of ABC Secretariat, Madam Nannette Thomas endorsed that they should see the rationale of reforming their negative attitudes and behaviours since this mishap has not only endangered their personal lives, but has in its entirety cost the Sierra Leone Police its once enviable reputation. She questioned what use the officers made of reforms that were inducted by Keith Biddle and other foreign interventions as in their judgment the Police is still not the ‘Force For Good’ they intended to build the Sierra Leone Police into. Madam Thomas bemoaned this happening and admonished that in modern developments much is expected from institutions more so the Police which she maintained are an important organ within the justice system and continued that the bad attitudes and behaviours of certain officers are seriously soiling their institution which used to be a noble one. She asserted that until the officers manage their finances, relationships, environments, spiritualities and health well the possibility for them to acquire positive attitudes and behaviours is impossible. In this light Madam Thomas encouraged the officers to work on the five crucial components of live which she termed as the ‘5 Pillars Of Successful Life. ’ Madam Thomas used the opportunity to commend the Sierra Leone Police for their exemplary role in the fight against HIV/AIDS and outstanding performances at international fronts and encouraged them to maintain and progress these statuses. She however decried the rampant extortion of monies from the public, especially complainants, drivers and bike riders. Moreover the National Coordinator and Second-In-Command of ABC Secretariat, Madam Nannette Thomas attacked the officers for their connivances with certain criminals to evade justice which she said is out rightly unpatriotic and unprofessional. Concluding her lectures Madam Thomas informed that her institution is willing to partner with the Sierra Leone Police to ensure that its officers value their integrity above personal aggrandizement.
Making a statement the Divisional Chief Clerk, Private Constable Lansana S.F. 121010 thanked the ABC Secretariat for calling on them and assured that they will make good use of their sensitization to make the Police attain its once reputable status. He however alleged that they are at the masses of politicians who he claimed interfere with their operations and called on the ABC Secretariat to engage politicians on the repercussions of these uncalled for interferences.
In another development the Divisional Traffic Officer, Inspector Tamba Johnny blamed other institutions for the poor performance of police officers. He cited the Sierra Leone Roads Transport Authority as a typical example which he complained still issue licenses to prohibited right-hand vehicles and went on to castigate the SLRTA snail-paced process of issuing licenses to drivers and riders. Inspector Tamba Johnny complained of the bad behaviours of bike riders within the Port Loko District who according to him take pleasure in flouting road signs and traffic regulations which he said is mostly caused by the bike owners who bank on political connections to leave their bikes unregistered in the hands of unlicensed riders.
“Anytime we arrest right-hand vehicles, unregister motorbikes, unlicensed drivers and drivers for diverse traffic violations, politicians breeze or inundate our offices with demanding calls to give blind eyes and deaf ears to the offenders’ crimes. This is a raw political interference that keeps obstructing us while we are performing our duties to effect the rule of the law in this land,” the Divisional Traffic Officer of Port Loko Police Station lamented and concluded by reprimanding the ABC Secretariat to advice politicians against the manifestation of these bad attitudes and behaviours which he said are not twisting the hands of the Sierra Leone Police behind its back but are equally leading to the death of hundreds of significant lives annually through accidents that could be avoided if the Traffic Division of the SLP is allowed to work uninfluenced.
Meanwhile to effect changes in the way motorbike riders and police officers conduct themselves for the benefit of the general inhabitants of Port Loko District and beyond, the Secretariat’s Executive Director, Dr. Ivan Ajibola Thomas handed over a copy of a Memorandum-of-Understanding (MOU) that was signed in February this year among them the National Executive of Commercial Bike Riders Association, Sierra Leone Police, SLRTA and Attitudinal and Behavioural (ABC) Change Secretariat to the representative of Operational Officer of Port Loko Police Station, Inspector Johnny.
Dr. Thomas informed that the terms of the MOU were objectively agreed upon by the concerned parties and called on the officers attached to the Port Loko Police Station to put the MOU into effect as it will go a long way to facelift their battered image with the Sierra Leonean public.
“We as a Secretariat being assigned to engage citizens on the rationale of shedding negative attitudes and behaviours for more positive ones will do everything institutionally possible to sensitize those not only with political powers, but also economic and legal backings to stop contaminating police responsibilities,” the National Coordinator and Second-in-Command of ABC Secretariat, Madam Nanette Thomas assure the police officers.
By Momoja Lappia
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