Peter F. Zaizay
Deputy Minister for Administration and Acting Minister for National Security, Liberia
Community Policing, Training
private security, recruitment, donor relations, vetting, training curriculum, integration and amalgamation, internal management, language, corruption, community policing, depoliticization, vigilantism
Mon May 12 2008
Peter F. Zaizay gives a detailed account of the post-war reforms and the restructuring of the Liberian National Police. He discusses how the 2003 Accra Comprehensive Peace Agreement gave the United Nations the mandate to carry out the reforms. The U.N. Police were predominantly involved in deactivating the LNP and recruiting new officers after vetting, and were also engaged in training the police and developing community policing forums. Zaizay recounts the challenges faced during the process: the large number of unskilled and unemployed youth who contributed to a rise in crime, gender-based violence, armed robbery within communities that lacked private security, the expected return of the huge refugee population abroad that posed a potential security threat, and the issue of whether or not the LNP would be accepted and respected by the locals after the U.N. left. Zaizay also talks about the government’s plans to integrate and amalgamate security institutions due to overlapping functions among organizations and the lack of sufficient funds to run them. He describes the history of politicization of the security service and the lack of established mechanisms for depoliticization. He emphasizes the need for an independent and professional civilian oversight board. As a result of the reforms, ethnic balance within the LNP was attained and a protection section for women and children was established. Zaizay stresses the importance of learning from other countries like Sierra Leone, Ghana and Uganda to find out how they have managed to transform their police services.
At the time of this interview, Peter F. Zaizay was Liberia's deputy minister for administration and the acting minister for national security. He began his career in private security in 1986. He worked with the Jascere Security Services. In 1992, Zaizay joined the Liberian National Police, and he worked in the Patrol Division, the Criminal Investigation Division and the Criminal Intelligence Unit. He also served as an assistant director of police for press and public affairs from 2004 to 2006. Later, he became the deputy director of police for training and then the commandant of the National Police Training Academy, a position he held from 2006 to 2007.