The quality of the rule of law in a given country is not obscured. It is measured by the manner in which the authorities restrain themselves from taking actions which trample upon the freedoms of citizens, regardless of how much they are provoked.
While breakers of the law must be made to face the law, it is also prudent that law enforcement officers exercise utmost professionalism while enforcing the laws.
The riot that occurred on April 16 was a bad omen. It is a brewing culture – both on the part of law enforcement officers and the citizens that has the inclination to sink the state into anarchy.
We condemn in every sense the burning of the Red-Light police depot, the vandalizing of other depots and the stoning of law enforcement officers by some uncooked elements of our society.
However, we have in the past interestingly observed with dismay our police officers armed with long sticks and rattans as arms to enforce the law.
We have witnessed police officers who should have a more professional means or tactics, use long sticks to knock off motorcyclists off their bikes when their tread restricted routes. This, we believe is unprofessional of the police and must be checked.
We have also witnessed and heard of top officials of the police force knocking down with their vehicles motorcyclists who violate traffic regulations.
What is even more disturbing to us is we see uniformed officers who were trained to be in other sectors of the police at various street intersections conducting traffic. We see more police in the streets than in the communities.
We also wonder what kind of training prohibits the officers of the Liberia National Police from talking to citizens in a more polite manner rather than using harsh tone even when the occasion does not call for it.
The police must be reminded that their statutory duty is not only to enforce the law, but also to protect life and property.
This means, hurting or taking away a life must be the very last resort when the life of the police officer or another citizen comes in danger because of a suspect.
We cannot afford to have a police state. We, rather, need a police that would be a friend to society.
We see the April 16 riot as a sign of loss of confidence in the police and the justice system. Until the police and the justice system regain the confidence of the public, we are afraid there may be reoccurrences of such unruly occurrence that on April 16.
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