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Correctional Service officers trained in use of firearms

March 29, 2016 By Patrick Jaiah Kamara

Public Relations Officer of the Sierra Leone Correctional Service, Mohamed Opito Jimmy, has told Concord Times that correctional service office would soon start using fire arms as part of their security strategy to prevent jail breaks at correctional centres across the country.

Jimmy told Concord Times last week that 100 correctional officers were being trained in the use fire arms, adding that the training would last for three months.

“Two jail breaks have taken place in the recent past. One at the Male Correctional Centre and the latest was at the lockup of the Sierra Leone Judiciary. Our men have been doing well since after those two jail breaks, apparently as a result of the technical training given to them,” he said.

In December 2010, some 19 prisoners escaped from the maximum security prison at Pademba Road through the front gate. According to report, officers manning the gate were unarmed, while the prisoners fired pistol to scare away the guards as they escaped.

The PRO said that after those two jail breaks, they signed a memorandum of understanding with the Operational Support Division of the Sierra Leone Police to provide armed security personnel at the main gate of the Pademba Road Male Correctional Centre.

He noted that though the police are their sister security force, there was need to arm their men who are closer to inmates, to ensure trust, adding  that the correctional Service has gallant officers that could do better if trained in the use of arms.

Jimmy disclosed that 100 men were selected among the Control and Restrained Unit from the 19 correctional centres across the country to participate in the training.

When asked as to whether the selected number was enough to man over 7000 inmates across the country, Jimmy said, “We begin a thousand miles with a single step and we will increase that number as time progresses.”

He said they were aware of the large number of prisoners in the country but they chose to start with that number with the hope of increasing on it later.

Meanwhile, some civil society organisations and right groups in the country have welcomed the initiative.

Ansumana Keita of Patriotic Advocacy Network applauded the government for the initiative but warned that the officers should not be trigger happy.

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