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Last Updated: Tuesday, 11 November, 2003, 12:24 GMT
Liberia gets new US police chief
Mark Kroeker
Mark Kroeker will lead a force from 46 countries
A retired United States police chief has arrived in Liberia to take over a new United Nations police force.

The current force of 4,000 officers is poorly equipped and badly paid. It is being disbanded and rebuilt by the UN.

Mark Kroeker will lead 1,000 foreign police officers in support of 15,000 peacekeepers enforcing a peace deal.

The former Portland police chief says his greatest challenge will be to ensure enough resources are available to equip and train a new local force.

Mr Kroeker, 59, told the BBC's Network Africa that the UN was there to help build up the capacity of Liberians to do things themselves.

"Our responsibility is not to be their government or to be their police, but to enhance and develop and grow a police that will become something that every Liberian will be happy to have."

New force

Mr Kroeker resigned in August after a controversial police shooting incident. Before then he was deputy chief of the Los Angeles Police Department. He has also served on peacekeeping missions in Bosnia and the Middle East.

A young looter
Looting and lawlessness are rife in Liberia
The old police force were was irregularly paid and rife with corruption, but new officers could come from the former force, he said, if they pass thorough checks and meet "rigorous standards of competency".

"I just hope the police that are out there are the kinds of police that we really need," he said.

"The people who are out there in the villages and neighbourhoods need a police service," he said.


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