From the Editor’s Keyboard

Police presence in Bo should be beefed up

By  | 10 December 2015 at 06:16 | 1858 views

Bo, the capital of the southern region of Sierra Leone is a very densely populated city. In fact it’s the second largest city in the country.

I read a study on the Sierra Leone police force a couple of years ago that found out that the force was severely over-stretched and needed to be beefed up with more officers to cover all parts of the country especially the remote areas.

Like other sectors in state governance, I think the police can recruit as many personnel as they want if they have the financial resources to do so. There are so many university graduates not to talk of high school graduates out there ready and willing to join the police force at any time. The police force of today is a very attractive employer, very different from the colonial police force which was packed with usually illiterate and semi-literate constables. Today’s police force in Sierra Leone has many university graduates and high school graduates with top grades. It’s conditions of service have also dramatically improved over the years.

But does Inspector General of Police, Francis Munu (himself a university graduate) have enough funds to recruit more and more officers each year? I don’t think so.

However I am sure the IGP can prioritize when it comes to deploying his men and women in areas of urgent security concern like the cosmopolitan city of Bo where matchete-wielding young gangsters went on the rampage recently, one gang cutting and slashing another rival gang in an orgy of madness until they were disarmed by what one Freetown newspaper called Okada (bike taxi) riders some of whom I suspect are former civil war combatants. Where were the police?, I can hear you ask. Don’t worry, the police turned up later, like they usually (but not always) do in Sierra Leone and arrested the gangsters and took them to jail.

It does not need much thinking to realize that they Bo police could not intervene immediately during that particular incident because they were busy elsewhere or were not in the immediate vicinity. Or did not have a vehicle at that point in time (oh yes).

There was another incident in Bo that also required quick police intervention that I would like to mention. That was was quite recent. Some store owners in the city aggressively tried to stop workers of SALWACO ( a government water company) from digging in front of their stores to lay pipes to supply tap water to the city. Their argument? The digging and laying of pipes in front of their store will make them lose customers. The confrontation, according to our sources, lasted for several minutes before the police arrived to restore law and order.

We need a very strong police presence in Bo and other regional capitals. Even in those remote areas near the country’s borders where you are likely to come across smugglers from Liberia and Guinea.