I have tremendous respect for Police officers, but we all know – either from personal experiences or the experience of someone close to us – that there are officers who will violate citizens’ human rights and civil liberties with impunity and who are comfortable in the knowledge that the system will protect and cover their actions. And while the race of the officer abusing his or her authority may vary, the race of those whose rights and bodies are abused almost never does.
Earlier today in Liberia, Police Officer Paul Blamo of the Police Support Unit, dressed in casual attire without a badge or visible identification, proceeded to arrest Francis Mbawah, a civilian citizen of VOA junction; officer Blamo only came armed with a Pistol.
The fact that officer Blamo was not properly attired in full police regalia caused some apprehension in Francis Mbawah who refused to yield to the arrest order. This infuriated the officer who threatened the civilian by raising his firearm into the air with the sole intention of shooting if Francis did not get on the Motorcycle for onward movement to the nearest police depot.
An argument ensued, during which the Police officer corked his weapon, causing the accused to panic and get into defensive mode, thus pouncing on the armed officer; in the process, a shot was fired, but struck no one. The question here is: was the Police officer right?
These kinds of inequities have led, inexorably, to the few national crises in police-community relations – and the best way forward is to make sure we severely punish officers who violate the rights of the citizens they are supposed to serve and protect; they must be held accountable for their actions.
Challenging the wrongs and errors of Police Officers is hard for some; many officers cover themselves in a narrative of heroism, sacrifice and risk whenever their actions are questioned. But, just because a person signed on to do a dangerous job does not give them the right to maliciously injure or recklessly take the lives of the people they swore to serve and protect. And I believe when an officer is found wanting in such acts, he/she must be severely punished for the violation of that person’s rights and a betrayal of the public trust.
It is more democratic for the media to be available for all and not be a commodity to be purchased by a few. I am happy to make a contribution so others with little or no means still have access to information.
Investigation needs to be done fast for the law to prevail.
Christian T. Quiah