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Ahead of 2018 elections …

Police officers equipped to restore public order

June 5, 2017 By Ibrahim Tarawallie

Police officers doing a public display of public order tactics

As the March 7, 2018 parliamentary, presidential and local council elections draw closer, some officers of the Sierra Leone police force have been equipped with the necessary skills needed to restore public order, whenever  issues of protests and strike actions, among others, occur.

The training at the Police Training School in the east of Freetown, which was funded by the United States Embassy and facilitated by the International Security Advisory Team (ISAT) and the United Kingdom College of Policing, brought together ninety-six men and women from the Operational Support Division and General Duty of the SLP.

The training was as result of the rampant use of force by police officers, whenever responding to issues of public order.

During a public display of public order tactics by the officers on Friday (June 2), US Ambassador to Sierra Leone, John Hoover, described the training as another milestone and a demonstration of strong partnership between the US and the government in the areas of law enforcement and promoting peace and security.

He expressed hope that the training would help promote the philosophy that respects the freedom of citizens, but more importantly, the confidence in the police ability to maintain public order in a professional manner that conforms to international human rights standards.

He stressed the need for the SLP to work with civil society and allow public expression in an organised way to promote public safety, while urging the trainees to ensure the security of people, which is one of their roles during elections.

“Your efforts to protect and respect public freedom to assemble and engage in free speech will help your country to develop a stronger democracy through peaceful, fair and free election. By de-escalating tensions, and using new decision making models, we hope that this program will help you to protect voters, as well as candidates and make sure that people participate freely in the process,” he said.

He spoke about the need to promote the safety and security of police officers as law enforcement officers, because any threat against them would undermine their ability to do their job and protect people.

Also, Chief Superintendent Ellen Williams from the UK Police Service stated that the training was to ensure that police respond professionally and properly when issues arise.

“The police force stands for your leadership, strength and professionalism in handling situations when they do occur. Your strength and character to stand up for those who don’t do it right, uphold the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Constitution of this country is paramount. Leadership is not only about right but it comes from within,” she said.

He urged them to help communities to be better and keep order amongst them, stressing that they were not above the community but part of it.

According to her, it is paramount that when policing, officers need to have the desire and passion to make sure that everything stay democratic, free and fair.

Also speaking was the Deputy Inspector General of Police, Richard Moigbeh, who commended the officers for going through such a rigorous training at a short time.

While thanking the US government and ISAT for the support, he noted that the training was part of the SLP’s preparedness for the March 7, 2018 elections.

He admonished the trainees to make good use of the training by putting into practice what they have learnt in restoring public order.

“We will be professional in what we do to police the 2018 elections. We have structures to punish our officers who will fall foul of the rules. I urge you all to work within your mandate,” he urged.

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