From the Editor’s Keyboard

Another plaudit for the Sierra Leone Police

15 September 2016 at 03:40 | 1650 views

Opinion

By Titus Boye-Thompson, Guest Writer, Freetown, Sierra Leone.

There will always be skirmishes, lawlessness and some errant behaviour when masquerades come out to play during public holidays like the one that occurred last Monday.

The Sierra Leone Police has now earned another plaudit by their deft handling of the various jollities around the city. What the events of Monday demonstrate is that where communities adhere to the precepts of proper policing, the prospect of matters over-blowing into full scale conflict is much reduced.

The numerous masquerades across the city that day were not without their risk of violence and lawlessness but things were very well managed by a visible police presence and the non-confrontational attitude of the officers as they provided first line security to each group.

The peaceful management of Monday’s processions was made possible by the single fact that the Odehlay Union continues to engage with the police on their members’ behalf and in the event, they were able to have made ample arrangements to seek police clearance for them prior to the parades.

To further strengthen security for each masquerade, the Sierra Leone Police provided escorts of up to eight officers that accompanied each parade through their designated routes. The police presence created an assurance of safety and security for onlookers and the streets were full with them as they came out to watch the parades.

This is what we had been used to in Freetown. The adherence to police guidelines before a public procession is made is critical to a proper management of such processions. The police have shown that they are able and well prepared to manage public events and with this successful management of the processions in Freetown and other major urban areas over the holiday. While this is a statement of capacity, it is also significant to note that they need to be given the adequate level of resources to effectively enforce law and order in the country.

Those who would rush to see this as an unwarranted defence of the Sierra Leone Police would be unjustified in that conclusion because when you compare the size of the events on Monday, the spread of activities was very wide to think of a stage managed affair. The number of masquerades were too numerous to police individually but the strategy to locate additional police officers at specific junctions emboldened the police and raised the prospects for better coordination of their crowd control activities.

There is also an overriding consideration why the police should be commended for a job well done, making sure that communities learn from that engagement.

The violence that erupted in Moyamba and Kabala had but one thing in common and that was a lack of police approval and a disrespect for lawful authority. It is therefore clear that when police clearance is given, the Force will do all it can to manage the event successfully. This may be the learning point for all of us. Let us encourage our young people to obey the law and abide by its precepts.

From this standpoint, it is clear that the police can and are able to effectively manage public events. With the imminence of the National Elections in 2018, the level of management skill and leadership shown by the Inspector General and his senior officers show determination and strategic planning.

These people who have held this country at the brink of conflict and fragility must be given support to continue their work and that our communities should give them the support they require.

Congratulations to the Inspector General Francis Alieu Munu (photo) and the Executive Management Board for a day well policed.

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