Creating a professional organization that provides support and training to build professionalism among law enforcement personnel

The Liberia National Law Enforcement Association (LINLEA) promotes professionalism among law enforcement personnel. LINLEA advances the perspective that law enforcement officers should be the leading human rights protectors and promoters, as prescribed by the law enforcement code of ethics and canons of police ethics. These codes challenge officers to respect the constitutional rights of all people to liberty, equality and justice. Unfortu­nately, due to lack of training, indiscipline, poor leadership or political manipulation, law enforcement personnel often engage in unprofessional conduct that leads to human rights abuses. LINLEA was established to meet police officers’ needs for training, advocacy and assistance, and to do so in a context that makes them willing to join and participate.

To create LINLEA, respected law enforcement officers invited heads of public and private law enforcement departments and agencies to participate and establish an organizing committee. This committee developed the articles of incorporation and appointed a board of directors. The minister of justice attended the launch, add­ing legitimacy to the association. The association has since established a wide variety services for its members, including training in police and investigative procedures, human rights and leadership, as well as mechanisms to enhance enforcement of professional standards such as grievance procedures. In addition, the association reaches beyond the law enforcement network, working together with communities and organizations to improve the human rights conditions in Liberia.

Members make a personal investment in the organization by paying dues. LINLEA has now grown into a network of more than 500 law enforcement personnel, representing nearly 20 percent of the police force as well as many members of other law enforcement institutions. LINLEA’s Center for Criminal Justice Research and Education has provided leadership and human rights training for 223 senior law enforcement officers. It has also conducted a training-of-trainers workshop for trainers and curriculum specialists of law enforcement agencies, as well as a workshop on policy formulation and development for law enforcement planners and administrators.

The association hosts annual social events which strengthen the bonds among members and their families and public forums to build relationships between law enforcement and communities. And it provides ongoing ser­vices that benefit law enforcement personnel, including certificates for participating in training workshops, which can help them receive promotions; support for their requests for advancement within the law enforcement struc­tures; assistance with and some protection from professional problems such as dismissals and wrongful charges; and some assistance when facing personal problems such as financial distress due to a death in the family.

For more information on this tactic, read our in-depth case study.

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What we can learn from this tactic: 

In Liberia, law enforcement officials saw the need to improve respect for human rights within their own ranks.

Many organizations have introduced training programs for law enforcement officials. LINLEA’s approach, as a professional organization, requires an investment of time, money and effort from the police officers them­selves. This adds an incentive for professional behavior — behavior that shows a respect for human rights — that comes from within rather than outside the profession. These incentives are critical to building the organizational strength needed to support law enforcement personnel who want to improve their own conduct, and to provide leverage for changing the behaviors of those who violate professional norms. Because they are law enforcement officials themselves, LINLEA’s organizers have a particularly deep understanding of the chal­lenges law enforcement personnel face and the kinds of support they need.