Montserrado County District # 2 Representatives Jimmy Smith has come to the frontline of police defense, says the use of teargas and water cannons to disburse hostile crowd is a global method to restore order in the public space. The Representative cautions members of the public to refrain from antagonizing the Liberia National Police for what they may call “using excessive force to disburse crowds of protesters or demonstrators.” The representative dismissed criticisms by some members of the public that police have been using excessive force against peaceful gatherings; reports The Analyst’s legislative Correspondent Sallu K. Swaray.
The lawmaker’s statement was made in a motion on the floor of the Plenary of the House of Representatives on Tuesday, January 21. His motion was in response to a communication by Montserrado County District # 10 Representative Yekeh Y. Kolubah requesting Plenary to invite the Minister of Justice, Cllr. Frank Musa Dean along with the Inspector General of Police, Col. Patrick T. Sudue to appear before the August Body.
District #10 Kolubah craved the indulgence of the House Plenary in a letter to invite the Ministry of Justice operatives to show reason why the police have to use of excessive force by using teargas and water cannons on a group of women who had gone to protest peacefully against Rep. Hanson S. Kiazolu for an alleged rape case involving the Montserrado County District #17 Lawmaker on the compound of the Capitol Building on January 16,2020,
But the Representative Smith came to the defense of the Police on the House Plenary Floor and said the House cannot antagonize the police to effect order on the ground of the capitol when, he said, Kolubah did not know the actual activity that was obtaining on that day.
Smith said some of the women along with others who converged outside on the ground of the Capitol Building were stoning the police. “I am aware of this; so why now you blame the police for using force on the Capitol Building premise?”
Rep Smith indicated that, it was judgmental on the part of his colleague and other members of the public who accuse the police for the level of force they use in disbursing hostile protesters. “And I think that was the conversation. My point here is that the authority vested in the law enforcement officers to deal with volatile and threatening situations come from the Liberia Penal code which is a provision from the constitution” Smith indicated.
Representative Smith averred, “For someone who is not a law enforcement officer to accuse the police of the level of force used; then I have problem with that; the question then is how did you determine the level of force use by the police?” The representative further said that too often people accuse the police of excessive force, which he pointed out is not right.
He informed his colleagues that the use of teargas by police is nothing new, but is a law enforce tactics that is used to quell hostile terrains and restore calm and civility to for the benefit of all, stating that in any part of the world and even in the United States of America; police used tear gas; so should they make police their enemy?
He further noted that, the police were on the Ground of the Capitol base on request of the security experts from the capitol building for police protection; that’s how the police got here.
Meanwhile, the communication of Representative Yekeh Kolubah that provoked Representative Smith reaction was forwarded to the judiciary, security committee, health and gender committees for perusal; but Rep. smith said that was to his advantage as a member of these committees.
“Since the House plenary has mandated that Hon. Yekeh Kolubah’s communication be forwarded to the judiciary committee, the security committee, the health and gender committee; I am a part of the committee on national security and I am also on the judiciary as well; this will give me the chance to bring my expertise to justify and let the people or public know; that once you challenge the police, force would be obviously use,” Rep. Smith added.