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The Liberian National Police (LNP) will become the chief provider of security in Liberia as the United Nations Mission in Liberia is reduced. Given the LNP's capabilities and complexity, its past manipulation by former President Charles Taylor, and a pattern of police misconduct in much of Africa, the question of oversight is critical.

To examine how best to design the LNP oversight construct, the authors evaluate the likely effectiveness of different oversight options against three criteria — manageability, permanent professionalism, and public confidence — and study police oversight concepts used in other African countries. They conclude that Liberia needs a mixed (i.e., government-independent) LNP oversight system with a broad mandate for enhancing police professionalism and gaining the confidence of the public. Such a system should be clear, relatively simple, manageable, and comprehensible to the Liberian people, and it should complement and strengthen both the government's normal management of the LNP and the LNP's ability to operate. The authors recommend the creation of a government-chaired, mixed-membership, multi-tiered system with the authority and competence to evaluate police policy and performance and to make associated recommendations.

Accordingly, the authors recommend the creation of a high-level policy body (the LNP Policy Council) and a subordinate body (the LNP Investigative Council) to investigate individual allegations of police abuse and look for patterns of such behavior within different parts of police agencies. They also recommend that the groundwork should be laid for the eventual creation of local police forums to promote local connectivity and confidence.

The research described in this report was prepared for the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD). The research was conducted in the RAND National Defense Research Institute, a federally funded research and development center sponsored by the OSD, the Joint Staff, the Unified Combatant Commands, the Department of the Navy, the Marine Corps, the defense agencies, and the defense Intelligence Community.

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