Why community policing in Liberia was less effective

Master's Thesis, 2017

76 Pages, Grade: 68


Table of Content


List of figures



1.0 Introduction
1.1 What community Police means
1.2 The rise of Community Policing
1.3 Problem statement
1.4 Research Aim and Objectives
1.5 Research Questions
1.6 Significance of the Study
1.7 Research Methodology

2.0 Evaluating Community Policing in Liberia
2.1 Has COP work in Liberia?

3.0 The exclusion of the Informal security sector from Liberia Post conflict security reform undermines COP activities?

4.0 The impact of Police Corruption on COP in Liberia

5.0 The role of low funding to Police programs in Liberia

6.0 Lack of public trust and community collaboration in the COP program in Liberia

7.0 Conclusion


Thanks to God for his strength and protection given me throughout this research. I will like to extend my sincere appreciation to my supervisor, Prof. Bruce Baker for playing not just a supervisory role, but his supportive and caring academic support that facilitated me in the process of my research. I am so grateful to remember your warm reception and scholarly mentorship that heighten my resolve to initiate this research in such a noteworthy field.

I also owed it to my mother, my brothers and sisters for being monetarily and justly supportive of my pursuit for high education. I would like to recognize Mrs and MrAmbulahMamey, Mrs and Mr Francis Romeo Grant, Mrs and Mr Abraham Paasewe, Mrs and Mr James N. Mahn and other friends and relative for their affectionate role played in getting me where I am today. I see all of you as an impetus not just for me, but more young and promising downtrodden Liberians wanting to aspire for prestigious academic peaks. Continue to by those like us in deserted communities and you shall be rewarded with the good note of serving humanity.

It is my almost pleasure to appreciate the Liberian government through the Ministry of Education for offering such an opportunity that has changed my life for the better. To all members and staff of the faculty Art and Humanities, Coventry University, I acknowledged your academic support and knowledge given me. This has made me a new man in my field of study. I remain indebted to you all.

List of figures

Figure 1: Figure 1: showing how often Police take bribes 37


Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten


Community policing is a new phenomenon widely used to provide security extension through police-community partnership or cooperation between the state security providers and the community. This philosophy has proven to be an alternative for developing countries especially where the state capacity to provide security is limited. This process involves using the community for crimes information, crimes prevention and fighting crimes. Hence, various communities have adopted the approach of combining community partnerships with people and police personnel as it leads to strengthening crime prevention, combating strategies and procedures (Wehrman 2011). However, the results of COP in different part of the world vary especially judging from the different forms, challenges and different situations confronting the implementation. According to Wisler and Onwudiwe (2008) and Denny (2013), the Western model of the COP entails a situation where the State organize COP activities for proper community partnership while the African model is an establishment organized by the people. With either of the methods, Liberia’s experience was less effective due to factors outlined as the exclusion of Non-state security providers from the SSR process, Police Corruption, Low funding and loss of trust in the police. It is important to note that after examination of the above factors, the research concords with two factors as key as influence that demoralise the workings of COP and therefore undermine its effectiveness in Liberia.


1.0 Introduction

Police-community partnership has become a practice in most part of the world that is sought to reduce crime level as well as improving the police-community engagement which is believed to play a vital role and serves as the backbone of crime prevention in many countries, as it offers in theory harmony, safety and security, sound political system and promotes economic growth. It is believed that “first, it helps broaden police organization goals, second, it alters the way police are organized to accomplish their goals." (Weisburd& Braga 2007: 47). The problem in practice however is that there is often a lack of coordination between the residents and traditional police which needs to be improved. As a result, despite serious attention and the increased level of acceptance being accorded COP by several countries and international donor organizations, its effectiveness remains an issue of debate. This dissertation will explore the dynamics of COP around the globe and dwell extensively on the Liberian experience of COP to ascertain the effectiveness of such policing philosophy (community policing) in Liberia.

1.1 What community Police means

The concept of community policing (COP) entails various practical as well as philosophical approaches that are continuously evolving at a rapid pace. Until now, no succinct and agreed definition has been reached to explain the concept of COP. There seems to be variations in various scholarly, governmental and organisational definition of the concept which has made the concept an ambiguous term. In the Western context, according to the United States Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), Community policing is defined as ‘a philosophy that promotes organizational strategies that support the systematic use of partnerships and problem-solving techniques to proactively address the immediate conditions that give rise to public safety issues such as crime, social disorder, and fear of crime’ (COPS 2014: 3). To the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRIS) however, their appreciation of COP slightly differs with that of COPS on grounds that the strategies relevant to the implementation of ‘effective community policing vary according to the needs and responses of different communities’ (Sipri 2011:9). In the same vein, from an African perspective, the Nigerian Sociologist, FolashadeOkeshola with Mudaire stated that

Community policing is a paradigm shift that seeks to focus on constructive engagement with people who are the end users of the police service and re – negotiate the contract between the people and the police thereby making the community co – producers of justice and a quality police service (Okeshola and Mudaire 2013:134).

Going by Okeshola and Mudaire’s position, the essence of COP is to bridge the relationship-gap between the community and the law enforcement agents. How convincing and successful this form of policing is in Africa with regards to respecting human rights and other standards that promotes human dignity is another debate. For instance, Ruteere postulated on the experiment of COP in Kenya and argued that This kind of community policing where the police are merely a back-up for the community is far more community-centred than the sector-policing approach developed in Western countries. What it means in other words, is the replacement of formal security by private or community initiative. In such a opening up the possibility of violence and social anarchy (Ruteere 2003: 603).

In his opinion, Ruteere sustained that this style may lead to the legalization of Vigilantism and the so-called Jeshis that were initially condemned for working outside of the legal system and employing senseless violence (ibid 2003). Ruteeere’s position has been challenged by the Kenyan Human rights commission (KHRC) who argued that COP activities in Kenya have been responsible, unlike government whose responses through traditional police structure to violent crimes have been being unfriendly and often left the trail of innocent people death. In taking a fair position, I concur with the position of the KHRC, as COP tends to make the police more accountable for their actions to the public unlike the traditional policing style that less of the public partnership is appreciated. In the same vein, the concept of COP evolved to correct the wrongs in the traditional policing style, if the traditional style of policing were to be perfect, the concept of COP would not have surfaced. Just as Wrobleski and Hess (2003) reiterates, the essence of community policing is to return to the day when safety and security are participatory in nature and everyone assumes responsibility for the general health of the community- not just a select few, not just the local government administration, not just the safety forces, but absolutely everyone in the community ( Wrobleski and Hess 2003: 134).

A critical assessment of Wrobleski and Hess statement connotes that the purpose for the adoption of COP is to make every member of the community responsible for the provision of and maintenance of security, peace and order.

Although, there are complications in reaching a permanent definition due to the fact that COP means different things to different people and different societies, there are certain primary considerations and principles that are common among different communities (Brogden 2003 and Pommerolle 2003). These relative connotations about COP were justified by Friedman, where he stressed the obscurity of COP and referred to it as “buzz word” that is being used to substitute other terms such as problem oriented policing, community oriented policing, foot patrol and more (Friedman 1992:2). To Friedman, COP can better be explained as policy and strategy directed at community partnership in an attempt to reduce crimes and provide better quality of life. Although it is evident that there are numerous definitions of COP, this research will view COP from Kappeler& Gaines (2012) encompassing perspective when they reiterate that COP is a philosophy based on the concept that police officers and people working together in creative ways can help solve contemporary community problems related to crime, fear of crime, quality of life and neighbourhood conditions. The philosophy is predicated on the belief that achieving these goals requires that police departments develop a new relationship with people by expanding their role in the community, allowing ordinary people the power to set local police priorities, and involving them in efforts to improve the overall quality of life in their neighbourhoods (2012:9-10).

Notably, despite the ambiguities inherent in defining COP, Kappeler& Gaines’s definition provides a robust explanation of what COP is all about. This research however views COP from Kappeler& Gaines perspective.

1.2 The rise of Community Policing

There are different views on how COP was initiated. Brogden and Nijhar(2013) believed that it was inaugurated as a reaction to the loopholes created in the operation of traditional policing. On the contrary, there is no substantial ground to tie the formation of COP to the loopholes created by traditional police operation, judging from the different reasons that give rise to COP in different parts of the world.

In the United States for example, the study of Lewis and Lewis (2012) shows that a major experiment was inaugurated in 1990s in the City of Chicago due to the increased crimes rate.The mayor of Chicago tooksteps by mixing the traditional police officers with the local residents to fight against crimes (Lewis and Lewis 2012). This initiated the concept of community policing in which one police officer was announced to a very small geographical locations. Every policeman was allocated about 30-40 blocks away and the tenure of assignment was at least two years so that the residents can develop a harmonious relation with their designated police officer. In another view, Reisig (2010)argues that COP arose as a response to “the wrongdoing of police in the minority areas occupied by the African Americans.” This, according to Reisig, was “igniting racism in America as well as the separation of African Americans.” This was responded to by recruiting African Americans in police department and designating them to the minority areas so that they can develop good relations with the residents (Reisig 2010:18). In the same vein, Fisher-Steward (2007) argue that COP was established to deal with many community problems that don’t have police solution which includes but not limited to lack of recreational opportunities, lack of educational facilities that can lead to viable employment and bring stability to the community. COP however was adapted as an antidote to the criminality that has perpetrated into the American State (2007).

In the United Kingdom, Reisig reiterates in a research on policing conducted in the 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s indicating that “racism and racial prejudice in police culture were more widespread and more extreme than in wider society.” Studies found that ‘racial prejudice and racialist talk were on the increase (Smith and Gray 1985: 388–9). However, the weight of the empirical evidence that COP was introduced to check racism in the UK is questionable since it predates racist issues in the UK.The first advocate of COP in Britain was -Sir Robert Peel in 1829. Peel created the London Metropolitan Police with corresponding set of principles which he referenced as ‘The police are the public and the public are the police’. Peel argued that the community must police itself not only for the prevention of crimes but ‘in the interest of community welfare and existence’ (Lyman 1964 and Zumve 2012:136). This demonstrates that Peel viewed the basis of COP in Britain from a different perspective contrary to the racial claims. The concept and history of community policing is long, but the awareness has increased in the modern era with people-centred policing taking over from problem-oriented policing related to crimes because of the increasing concern over crime rates including disrupted relations between police and citizens, issue of racism and tensions.

Just like the western democracies, Community policing is also an emerging trend in the developing countries of Africa but not so much because of racial tension. For instance, Nigeria where the concept of community policing was introduced by Inspector General of Police in 2004, it was to reduce crimes and to improve the unhealthy relationship between the citizens and the police was an uprising problem in Nigeria. These horrible images of the Nigerian police prompted the then Inspector General of the Nigeria Police Force Sir Mike MbamaOkiro to state that “our focus shall be to reverse the disdain and contempt with which policemen are held within the Nigerian society. There is no gain saying the fact that the police image is now at a low ebb” (Nigeria police force, 2007b). Further research piloted in 2000 by a group – Centre for Law Enforcement and Education (CLEEN) pointed out the widespread of brutality from the Nigerian police against the citizens. The research shows that of 637 respondents to a study conducted in 14 states. In that research, 14.8% of the respondents said they had been beaten by the police, 22.5% reported that the police-

Community policing was introduced primarily to create a peaceful living environment for every citizen of Nigeria and to reduce crimes. In community policing, “the police is not perceived as a stranger but a partner whose contribution in mutual fight against crime will be necessary” (Ikuteyijo and Rotimi 2010: 124) Although COP is perceived to be adopted for the betterment of the public, the relation between the police and residents is yet a friendly one after 12 years of its introduction in Nigeria. Moreover, as highlighted in the study of Zumve (2012), the increasing number of riots and acts of violence by the Nigerian police made the need for COP adoption inevitable. The Nigerian traditional police legacy is crowded with “arbitrariness, ruthlessness, brutality, vandalism, incivility, low accountability to the public, and corruption” (Alemika, 1988:161). These horrible images of the police prompted the then Inspector General of the Nigeria Police Force Sir Mike MbamaOkiro to state that “our focus shall be to reverse the disdain and contempt with which policemen are held within the Nigerian society. There is no gain saying the fact that the police image is now at a low ebb” (Nigeria police force, 2007b). Further research piloted in 2000 by a group – Centre for Law Enforcement and Education (CLEEN) pointed out the widespread of brutality from the Nigerian police against the citizens. The research shows that of 637 respondents to a study conducted in 14 states. In that research, 14.8% of the respondents said they had been beaten by the police, 22.5% reported that the policehas threatened to shoot them in the past, while 73.2% reported to have witnessed police brutality ( Zumve 2012:37). These results reaffirm that Nigerians Policing presents an unfriendly environment for Police relationships with communities thereby prompting renewed efforts at COP to create a new window for community trust and coordination. The president and the top echelons of the Nigerian police having realized the ruthlessness and brutality of the police force, sought to reconcile and regain the people’s trust and co-operation through the adoption of COP philosophy.

COP has also been introduced in Latin America. To be specific, Brazil, where criminal activities are mostly observed, initially, the police employed military tactics which was not suitable and not appreciated by the public. The government then initiated a programme known as the Special Areas Policing Group of Rio de Janerio’s Military Police Force (GRAE in Portuguese) in 2000 to settle the disputes between public and police, but the public did not have trust in police and thought that they will again start using their military tactics over residents (Fruhling 2012: 82). The situation in Brazil was a chaotic one but according to the author of this study, this was an initiative as the new group formed contained newly elected people and estimated that they will not use the tactics used previously but try to promote the public-police relationship.

Singling out Singapore from the Asian experience, Low (2012) identifies the creation of the formal institution for community policing and the formation of ‘Neighbourhood Police Post (NPP)’ back in 1983 (Low 2012: 25). There were no events of violence or brutality that required the formation of community policing but the Government of Singapore adopted a proactive strategy and formed the community policing institution and strategy to prevent any anticipated event of social or urban disorder that can cause harm to the society and government. The dread of crime among people was increasing and government realised that the fear needs to be eliminated by encouraging a police-public relationship and eliminating the fear of crime from public. COP can be said to be adopted in Singapore as a preventive policing style to anticipated crime and not a adopted to combat an existing high level of crime like the case of Nigeria.

From the few countries experience of COP observed above, evidently, COP has been adopted by different countries for different reasons. At the same time, the method of and strategy of its implementation varies from country to country. As the above countries experience shows, COP is implemented in a different way in all these countries. In USA, several policemen were assigned to an area with a few distances between them. In UK, a white policeman was assigned to white majority area and black policeman was assigned to black majority area so that a good understanding can be developed between police and citizens. In Nigeria, due to violence of police, new recruitments were made for the community policing that are more inclined towards forming a mutually beneficial and harmonious relationship between police and public.

1.3 Problem statement

This research seeks to investigate the development and practice of COP in Liberia. Despite the recognition and global acceptance of majority of the world police apparatus accord to COP, and while it has been claimed to be an effective measure of enhancing peace, tranquillity and security in some countries i.e. United Kingdom. However, the reverse arguably is the case in Liberia, where the security challenges does not appear to subside despite the introduction and adoption of COP at two different intermissions. This research is prompted to find out the underlining reasons why COP is yet to record a success in Liberia.

1.4 Research Aim and Objectives

The aim of the research is to investigate the effectiveness of Community Policing in Liberia. For this purpose, the following objectives are formulated:

- To understand what community Policing signifies and juxtapose the various scholarly debates about community policing around the world.
- To understand the concept of community policing in the context of Liberia.
- To evaluate its success or failure.
- To discover the principal reasons for the failure of COP in Liberia.

1.5 Research Questions

This research will seek to provide answers to the following questions:

- What is Community Policing?
- What is community policing in the context of Liberia?
- Has Community Policing in Liberia been effective?
- What are the principle reasons for the failure/success of community policing in Liberia?

1.6 Significance of the Study

COP is used worldwide and yet is often not effective especially in developing countries. If the reasons for its ineffectiveness can be identified by research then there is the hope that across the world citizens lives will be safer. There is a good amount of literature available on COP around the world depicting the history of community policing in different parts of the world. The studies also signified the reasons for the establishment of COP depicting the factors due to which the government felt that there is a need for the formation of COP programme. Most of the research is done in the African region of the world where crime rates are high and there is a dissonance in the relationship between the police and public so the government has initiated the community policing to build a harmonious relationship between them.

After the completion of the study, the reader will be able to identify the reasons due to which COP was or was not effective in Liberia. The factors that contributed to its ineffectiveness in Liberia will be considered seriously and rectified to decrease the crime rates in Liberia which have been increasing and to promote harmonious relationship between the Liberian public and the Liberia police force.

1.7 Research Methodology

This research will use secondary sources for data collection and the location will be Coventry University Lanchester Library building. This will help me explore valuable and appropriate resources for the purpose of achieving the research aim and objective. In addition, I will use google scholars, Academic search complete, Art and humanity fulltext, ProQuest Central, Security sector reform center, Sconul and other reliable online sources. Website like Community Watch forums of Liberia, Liberia National Police, UNDP-Liberia, UNMIL, Defence Ministry of Liberia, Justice Ministry of Liberia and Major credible newspapers both print and online will be useful for this research. It is with the help of these sources and appropriate sources analysis method that this research will achieve it outlined goals and expectation.

In order to achieve the research aims and goal clearly, this study is divided into seven chapters.

CHAPTER ONE: The first chapter contains the introduction to COP. This chapter aims at providing understanding for the readers the concept of COP. It also has the definition of COP, the contextual background section, the historical background, ineffective and effective implementation of community policing around the world. Furthermore, it discussed the research organization, aims and objectives, the problem statement, methodology, research questions, rationale and the significance of the study to let the audience know the reasons behind the research work.

CHAPTER TWO : The second chapter of the study is the literature review captured herein as ‘Evaluation of Community Policing in Liberia’. This chapter seeks is present analysis from academic scholars, COP practitioners, new ideas about COP in Liberia to ensure that the information discussed in the study is consistent with the previous researches to get the valid and reliable findings base on academic views.

CHAPTER THREE: In the third chapter, the discussion focuses on one of the key factors that hinder the performance of COP in Liberia. The squabble in this debate presents ‘the exclusion of Informal Security Sector from the initial SSR program in Liberia’ as one of the factors undermining the performance of COP.

CHAPTER FOUR: Chapter four will attend to the ‘the impact of police corruption’ as a second reason why COP was not able to explore her maximum potential in Liberia experience.

CHAPTER FIVE:This chapter picks up another factor, this time the third factor that obstructed COP operation in Liberia. It seeks to discuss ‘the role of low funding’ as one of the factors.

CHAPTER SIX: This chapter place examination on ‘the lack of public trust and community collaboration’ as the fourth factors that hinder COP in Liberia.

CHAPTER SEVEN:Chapter seven concludes the research with a summary argument that presents emphases of the main arguments and end with a position statement which indicates why the COP programmes failed or successful in Liberia.


2.0 Evaluating Community Policing in Liberia

For decades, police and other law enforcement agencies have been seeking better and effective partnership with members of the public in order to stimulate and promote safety and quality of life of individuals and their communities at large. COP is becoming a widely accepted tool to reach out to communities and fight crimes (Kember 2010). COP philosophy however requires various police departments and law enforcement agencies to form mutual partnerships and relations with members of their communities. In the past two decades, many police agencies and organizations have adopted community policing in their policing practises and operations all around the world. This idea became widespread as a result of the growing perception that traditional police has failed in providing security by fighting crime and disorder. Attesting to this, Arisukwu and Okunola postulated that ‘most times citizens watch crimes committed against the community without any step to report them and find solution because they do not want to “get involved” or they don’t trust the police’ (Arisukwu and Okunola 2013:55). Using this as reliance, one can agree that COP in Liberia was inaugurated to build community and police relations.

However, the workability and success of COP in the Liberian experience is questionable. While some scholars and commentators believe the policing philosophy has worked, others submit that it has only achieved a partial success. In the same vein, the adoption of COP in Liberia has been criticised by those who believed that the program has largely failed.

This chapter focuses on scholarly and practitioner positions on COP in Liberia, and seeks to make an assessment of the policing philosophy based on scholarly evaluations of the programme in Liberia.

2.1 Has COP work in Liberia?

According to Baker (2009), COP was introduced in Liberia in 2004 for the purpose of establishing an efficient and effective new community-Police partnership with the aim of creating ‘Community Forums’ across the country and the seven police zones with sub groups based around Monrovia. In his words:

In 2007, there were said to be 51 Forums in Monrovia and 93 more in the rest of Liberia. Interestingly, some of these were previously autonomous local ‘task forces’ that were taken over as Forums in this initiative. The approach was for the police to invite local leaders to form a Forum after they had had the concept explained to them (Baker 2009: 382).

Achieving the intent for the establishment of these watch groups across the country is another debate judging from Baker further position which argued that the motivation to establish these community watch groups faced problem of sustainability and threat from criminals(Baker 2009).

Respectively, Fayemi (2004), while accessing the security sector in Liberia, posited that one of the basic problem is the poor funding of the security sector which the police (who is the driver of COP in conjunction with the public) is not an exception. Fayemi posited succulently that, lack of local ownership, the under-funded nature of post-conflict security sector reconstruction that are ill-adjusted to domestic institutional and resource needs, as well as the non-holistic and ad-hoc nature of current reconstruction efforts and their sustainability, are issues that will have to be fully addressed if security sector reconstruction is to retain any relevance to the countries it seeks to serve (Fayemi 2004:23).

The position of Baker and Fayemi can be argued, evidence of the fact that United Nations Police (UNPOL) and United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in partnership with Liberian government have supported many Community Watch Forum projects. According to UNDP report (2011), an amount of US$ 750, 000 was sourced toward ‘enhancing community policing’ through community watch forums in 14 counties. This effort led to the increase in the number of crimes reported. It was recorded that ‘5% and 11.4% increase in number of opportunistic crimes reported during (June-August) and (August-September) respectively’ (UNDP 2011: 13).

Contrarily, the national chairman of the Community Watch Forum (CWFL), NyenatiKaffey complained about the lack of government support since the forum was established in 2004. While addressing the press on June 25, 2015, the forum chairman argued that ‘since the establishment of the forum in 2004 in collaboration with the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), the forum has been self-supported. According to him, it makes it very difficult to adequately perform its duties and as such the fifty third National Legislature should make reasonable budgetary allotment that will enhance the proper functioning of the forum (New Dawn Newspaper 2015: June 26 edition and CWFL 2015).

Similarly, Liberia’s Early-Warning and Response Network (LERN ), stated that the ‘ Community Watch Forum of Liberia (CWFL)’ was established with the aim of reducing crimes, violence and other social disorders through crime prevention and early warning for activities such as Drugs and Human trafficking, Child Abuse, gender based Violence, and promotion of Human Rights and the Rule of Law through COP’s initiatives and to shape trust and confidence between the Police and the community across various communities in Liberia (CWFL 2016).

Additional assessment of COP in Liberia by Kantor and Perrson (2010) posited that COP in Liberia has great potential, but needed the backing of the state in the form of training and funding:

Community Policing Forums (CPF) were set up to link police and communities. However, the results of such forums are mixed. Many argue that the CPFs are not sufficiently supported by the police. In some cases, criminals identified by community members are not dealt with. Additionally, CPF members complain that the forums are run on a completely voluntary basis with little or no assistance from the government – members must also pay for their own stationary, mobile phones, flashlights, etc. (Kantor and Persson 2010: 10).

Considering these assessments by scholars mentioned above against the UNDP (2011) report which submitted that the Liberian government and partners to some extent contributed minimum available resources to the operation of COP in Liberia, one cannot totally deny government support for COP activities. However, considering the weight of evidence from scholarly views pointing to low funding as one of those factors that demoralized the operation of COP in Liberia, I agree with Baker (2009), LERN (2014) and Kantor and Perrson (2010) assertion that the funding allotted for the program was insufficient to support it task.

Despite COP being introduced in 2004, the trust and confidence of the public in the police (who are meant to collaborate with the police in prevention and detection of crime) is still very low. As Blair, Karim and Morse (2016) concluded in a research funded by International Growth Centre,

Despite over a decade of reform, many Liberians continue to perceive state security and justice institutions as ill-equipped, inaccessible, and ineffective. Rule of law is weak, and many citizens continue to rely on illegal or extrajudicial mechanisms (such as mob justice or trial by ordeal) to resolve disputes and adjudicate crimes (Blair, Karim and Morse 2016:3).

This assertion clearly presents challenges that have over the years promoted extrajudicial actions. It’s obvious that the citizens themselves deal with crimes situation whenever there is issue of trust or capacity with regards to the operations of state security.

In addition, Kantor and Person blamed the loop holes inherent in the practice of COP in Liberia as a result of low trust in the Liberian Police by many Liberians. A survey conducted by them revealed 76% of Liberians responded that the most important actor ensuring their personal safety was UNMIL, while only 18% felt the same of the Liberia National Police. Many interviewees cited cases where the police took hours to arrive to a crime scene and then often were unable to properly investigate or even solve the case. Public perception of the LNP is not just based on its apparent lack of capacity and inability to respond to criminal activities, but also on their assessment of the police reform process. Many believe that the LNP is still made up of ‘dirty cops’(Kantor and Persson 2010: 16)

The mindset of people in the community seems to be shaped by the bad experience and relationship they had with the police during the war and most people have not recovered from that experience. Besides, the police have not proven to be effective even after the restructuring due to low staffing and low funding (Baker 2010).

This assertion, therefore, regarding no trust in the police, one can argued that the people, especially those living in Montserrado believed in the Liberia National Police against the perception that the COP command more trust over the LNP. Evidence can be appreciated in a baseline surveys conducted by Liberia Armed Violence Observatory (LAVO):

4% and 1% of the respondents in Monrovia cited UNMIL and AFL as the source security respectively while 80% of the people still look up to LNP for help. On the overall the LNP were the most frequently cited source of security (LAVO 2012: 13)

The LNP is looked up to in times of violent crimes since COP members around Monrovia are not empowered with weapons and logistics that could probably facilitate their operation when call by the community. Nevertheless, it is indicated in Blair, Karim and Morse (2016) and Karton and Perrson (2010) that the former security sector of Liberia inherited stigma as a result of the roles some played in working with the community during the war(Baker 2005).

However, judging from the above evidence that the Liberian government is making little or no provision of essential items, it is hard to regard the COP program as a complete success considering the fact that police failed to deal with criminals identified by the community watch teams as Kantor and Perrson noted. Kantor and Perrson further blamed the relative failure on the fact that COP was not assigned a role in the restructuring of Liberia’s security sector. In some instances, their role is not recognized because their operation doesn’t get official support, as the UNMIL and LNP with other state agencies are the recognized institutions fighting crimes.

In a similar submission to that of Kantor and Person, Baker asserts that Community Policing in Liberia: is precisely the sort of programme that a government with small police resources needs to encourage. Yet Liberia’s model for the Community Police Forums (CPFs) seeks little more than to provide the police with extra intelligence. Even this chosen restricted role is threatened by shortcomings in implementation (Baker 2009:189).

Further Baker believes the Liberian public is the biggest asset in crime prevention and law enforcement ref (Baker 2007) which the government should not ignore.

Going by from Bruce Baker (2005), Dixon and Rauch (2004), Releigh et al (2000), Scharf (2000) and Brogden and Shearing’s (1993) assertions about the difficulties of initiating COP it is evident that the relative failure pointed out by Kontor and Person is not unique to Liberia. All these analysts noted difficulties in establishing COP in Africa in an attempt to extend security activities to where state security cannot occupy. Baker (2005 and 2007), asserts that COP is hard to sustain as shown in the case of Uganda and Rwanda. However, it can be observed that successful reform doesn’t end with empowering simply the state security providers especially in post conflict Africa Just as Groenewald and Peake (2004) succinctly state:

Reform to the police alone is insufficient; community support and assistance are also necessary to achieving the basic goals of the police . . . Building partnerships between the police and communities is a major challenge that confronts aspirant reformers, but thus far, international reform efforts have given little recognition to this challenge _ not one of the mandates for UN missions mentions engagement with local communities as a reform priority (Groenewald and Peake 2004: 4).

On this note, I concur with the Baker (2009) and Kantor and Perrson (2010)’s belief that the improper inclusion of the local community engaging in securitizing the community is a major hindrance to the success of COP in Liberia. Going by Baker (2009) it is fair enough to note that the restructuring of the security in disregard to the multi-layer approach deteriorates the already complex security situation in the Liberia.

The Liberian National Police, (LNP) which is meant to partner with members of the public has been challenged about its corruption. According to Human Right Watch (HRW) 2013 report:

the ability of the police to enforce the law and investigate wrongdoing is severely compromised by lawlessness and abuse that police officers themselves inflict on ordinary Liberians, especially those living on the margins. The police force is riddled with corruption and a lack of professionalism and accountability (HRW 2013: 64).

Evidence demonstrating police corruption and abuse in the Human Rights Watch report (2013) further expound on community resident experience, quoting Mr Joseph (pseudonym), age 43:

I went to the police investigation department with a complaint [about how I was arrested, jailed for five days, and told to pay money to be released]. The whole thing was like a trick. They kept saying tomorrow, tomorrow [they would address my complaint]. The culture of impunity [in the police] continues to exist (HRW 2013:1)

Though the HRW demonstration of evidence seeks to feed the view that Liberian Police officers are corrupt, it also recognized the challenges faced LNP officers in performing their jobs which was also referenced by United States Department report (2012). United States Department report (2012) indicated that the rise of public official corruption is as a result of “Low pay levels for the civil service, minimal job training, and few court convictions exacerbated official corruption and a culture of impunity” (HRW 2013 :17). This analysis perfectly suites the Liberian police situation as they take between US$ 90-US$135 without any kind of incentive (Global tenant 2015:13).However, the United States Institute of peace slightly differs and found generally that the inability of the Liberian government to establish the rule of law as national objective is responsible for the high in police corruption. They maintain that it is the only approach any country employ to eliminate police corruption (Bayley and Perito 2011).

While community policing seeks to eliminate crime and fear of crime through partnership with members of the public, maltreating these members of the public who are meant to be collaborators in providing justice makes the promises of COP unachievable. HRW stated further:

A number of people who had tried to report their case to either a commander or the Professional Standards Division told Human Rights Watch that their complaints went unaddressed. Many other victims of police abuses said that they were either too afraid to report the violation, or, because of negative past experiences with pursuing police accountability, would no longer report cases to LNP personnel (HRW 2012: 1).

This view summarise the reason why some community dwellers prefer collecting money for ‘vigilante’ groups to provide them security in place of the Police, something that one community dweller alleged.

In the community now we have a vigilante group. We pay them, because the police are doing nothing. Each house pays 300 LD ($4) a month. We have about 300 houses in the community In the nights they will be at some strategic points and even patrolling the community They can have cutlasses and sticks in their hands (HRW 2013: 26)

However, many persons including UNMIL have expressed fear of using vigilante as source for security.

Judging from the above mention views about police working condition in Liberia, it is fact that police officers are vulnerable to bribes and different forms of corruption. However, for the purpose of this research, I consider the views that declared police corruption as a factor that undermines the COP. It has presented a situation for which the people in the community are they willing to corporate with law enforcement agencies (HRW 2012).

Appraising the overall operation of COP in Liberia, it’s difficult to disregard the little success it has made in helping to extend security to unreachable parts of the country. In 2015, Liberia deputy police chief Col. Abraham Kromah in his speech during the inauguration of the Community WATCH Forum of Liberia (CWFL) branch in Lofa lauded the community policing initiative, stating that it has extended policing activities to communities that seem unreachable (New Dawn Newspaper 2015 : June 26 edition).However, logistics and funding remain key issues that impeding the progress of COP (Baker 2009). UNMIL and GOL to some extent approved a minimum level of success from COP’s operation in Liberia. Kantor and Perrson (2010) posited that UNMIL was pleased with the operation of the CWF of Liberia. Meanwhile, the UNMIL boss warns against the use of vigilantism which they believed didn’t have the proper training to function in the ambience of the law. In addition, the Liberia National Police acknowledged the partnership between the Police, CWF and the community and declared that it has improved synergy between the police, the traditional leaders and the youth in the face of growing crime and violence and given the police’s inability to deal with disorder.

Baker agrees that adequate funding can constitute the back-bone of an effective and worthwhile security. Quoting donor and police testimonies, Baker concludes that ‘the lack of state resources to provide basic equipment appears to be the most obvious explanation for the failure of policing’. However, he submits that ‘not all the failure to provide a nationwide policing service that protects citizens from crime and investigates its occurrence can be attributed to the inability to afford personnel and resources’ rather ‘there is a pressing need for recognition of the role that non-state policing does and can play. There is no other realistic alternative security policy to fragile post-conflict countries than multi-layered policing’ (Baker 2009: 194 and 195). While Fayemi and Baker agree that poor funding makes the success of COP problematic, Baker takes it further, arguing for the incorporation and recognition of the non-state actors which to him in the Liberian case will broaden the responsibilities of the CPFs and make them even more productive in provision of security.

Going by the HRW submission however and the research carried out in 2012 by AfroBarometer showcased the police as the most corrupt institution in Liberia, it is justifiable to say COP policing is yet to be effective in the country as result of high level of corruption inherent in the LNP which sees the public which are meant to be collaborators in the provision of security as her pray rather than partner. However, going by Baker’s assertion that the ‘degree of public willingness to work with the state’ (2007: 216) determines the success of COP, one can say COP is ineffective in Liberia as HRW revealed testimonies of Liberians who asserts that they don’t want to have any sort of interactions with the police as they have to pay to get justice and are denied their right if they don’t.

Blair, Karim and Morse (2016) agree with Survey conducted by Kantor and Perrson which revealed that many Liberians believed that LNP is still made up of ‘dirty COPs’, thereby creating a level distrust in them by the community people. Nevertheless, this assertion was challenged by LAVO (2012) survey conducted with finding indicating 80% of the people’s reliant on the LNP for security, a claim that cannot survive the weight of evidence pointing to Police corruption, brutality and lack of trust from the community.

COP operation in Liberia is viewed and perceived differently by different people and organizations. Going by the above commentators, this research agrees with Baker (2009, 2007),Fayemi (2004), Kantor and Perrson (2010) and others scholarly commentators who postulatedthat COP in the Liberian experience has achieved limited success due to many factors. They have argued the Exclusion of COP in the restructuring of the security sector of Liberia, Poor funding, Trust factor and Corruption as the main causes working against the success of COP. It is however recognized that there has been little success. However, the burden of evidence suggesting that COP’s potential was undermined is satisfactory to inform this research position after a critical examination of the current state of COP in Liberia. Though many factors were stated as obstacle to the operation of COP in Liberia, this research will highlight four (4) key factors for assessment in subsequent chapters.


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Why community policing in Liberia was less effective
Coventry University
Terrorism, International Crimes and Global Security
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Emmanuel David Togba (Author), 2017, Why community policing in Liberia was less effective, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/382699


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