By: E. Geedahgar Garsuah, Sr.
MONROVIA: With just eight months remaining for the much-anticipated October 10, 2023 Presidential and Legislative Elections, the Chairman of Montserrado County Community Watch Forum (CWF) has entreated the 54th National Legislature to include the CWF in the national budget.
According to Chairman Edwin G. V. Kanneh, amidst the overwhelming financial constraints CWF is enduring owing to the lack of support from the Government of Liberia (GoL), it continues to play pivotal role in the maintenance of peace and stability of the country.
This measure, he said, has largely contributed to development and improved security across the country.
Kanneh said: “There is a need that the Legislature passes a law that will include the Community Watch Forum in the national budget.
As we move toward the elections, the Legislature should see reasons to prioritize the security of the state in the budget. We want them to focus on us as Community Watch Forum is the bedrock for development”.
Speaking in an exclusive conversation with The ‘Investigative’ INDEPENDENT during the weekend, Kanneh disclosed that President George Manneh Weah and other higher-ups in the government including House Speaker Bhofal Chambers and Senate Pro-temp Albert Chie have all acknowledged their effort in helping national security apparatus to maintain the peace and stability of the country, but he made known his disappointment as to why these acknowledgements are not being translated into financial support.
“In fact, they all recognized the good work of the Community Watch Forum. We met President Weah in Grand Cape Mount County and he promised his government’s support, yet nothing has been done in said direction. We have written the Legislature and held several personal interactions with House Speaker, Bhofal Chambers; and Senate Pro-temp, Albert Chie”, Kanneh stated.
However, Kanneh did not fail to acknowledge the efforts of three lawmakers from the Lower House, who he says, have always stood by the Montserrado Chapter of the Community Watch Forum in providing assistance for the forum’s operations.
He named Representative Ceebee Barshell, Representative Samuel Enders and Representative Solomon Claudia George of Montserrado County Electoral Districts #3, #6 and #7 respectively for their immense support to the effort of the Community Watch Team in their various constituencies.
“I want to acknowledge the tremendous efforts of District #3 Lawmaker, Ceebee Barshell. This is a man that has stood in the gap for the community watch team. District #6 Representative, Samuel Enders, has provided a vehicle (pickup) as a means of capacitating the function of the watch team. Also, District #7 Lawmaker, Solomon Claudia George, has always been there, providing funding for the upkeep of our guys who are providing voluntary community policing services,” Chairman Kanneh asserted.
According to Kanneh, CWF has been instrumental in serving as deterrence against rioting and other criminal activities across communities.
He referenced an incident of citizens’ disenchantment in Harper, Maryland County, when Speaker Chambers official’s residence was set ablaze by angry residents who had accused Speaker Chambers for doing nothing to curtail the surge of ritualistic killings in the county.
Kanneh pointed out that had it not been for the swift intervention of the Maryland County detachment of the Community Watch Forum team, the already volatile situation would have gone out of proportion.
“When the violence incident happened in Harper, where Speaker Chambers’ property was set on fire by angry citizens, it was the Community Watch Forum team that did all in their power to put the situation under control. In fact, the citizens refused for any intervention from the national security, rather, it was the Community Watch Forum who broke that deadlock and initiated a conversation between the citizens and police”, Kanneh revealed.
He also disclosed that the violence that greeted Liberia’s 175th Independence Anniversary on July 26, 2022, the Community Watch Forum was also involved with helping the police to swiftly restore calm to the city.
The Community Watch Forum is a brainchild of the erstwhile United Nations Mission In Liberia (UNMIL) under the Security Sector Reform mechanism. The initiative was birthed in 2004 with the primary purpose to foster community policing in coordination with national security apparatus.
Since it was established, the group has maintained its presence in all seventy-three electoral districts across the fifteen counties, providing community security services in consultation with the Liberia National Police (LNP).
The Community Watch Forum is the only legally recognized organization through the Ministry of Justice, charged with the duty to carryout community policing services, with support of the Community Service Department of LNP.
Members of the various Community Watch Teams, supervised by the Community Watch Forum are recruited by community leaders and thoroughly vetted and trained by the LNP at the Liberia National Police Training Academy.