Frantz Elbé, the head of Haiti’s National Police force fired three commanders of their responsibilities on Jan. 30..
PORT-AU-PRINCE — In the wake of violent protests by police held over the last week, Frantz Elbé, the head of Haiti’s police force, fired three commanders of their responsibilities on Monday.
Scores of police officers took to the streets last week to march against the killings of fellow officers by assailants believed to be tied to gangs that control Haiti’s capital. Those deaths had brought to 15 the number of police officers killed in the line of duty in the span of 15 days, according to the police union.
During the first protest held Jan. 26, officers stormed the Toussaint Louverture International Airport, broke a window and lowered the Haitian flag at half mast to honor their fallen comrades.
There were no reports of any victims during the police protests.
Barricades of burning tires, cars parked across the road, heavy gunfire, police coming and going from place to place on motorcycles, police officers supported by the population mobilized in several neighborhoods as part of their protest movement.
In anger, several officers ransacked Prime Minister Ariel Henry’s residence. Surveillance cameras, windows and windshields of vehicles were damaged, among other things. They then left the scene.
Gonaïves and St-Marc also protested the frequent killings of police officers. In fury, members of the population moved massively towards the premises of the DDA / PNH at the level of the City of Independence.
According to Iswick Théophin, president of the Block of the defenders of the Montana agreement, the claims of the police officers are legitimate. He denounced those who criticize the police revolted by crimes committed on their brothers in arms.
“We express our desolation and our disappointment at the losses of the PNH,” Théophin said. “These killings of the police are not random but are part of the plan of the international community and the government to favor the intervention of a foreign force in the country.”
Police guard changes
During a press conference on the assassination of the 15 police officers on Jan. 27, Frantz Elbe, director general of the police, explained that it is a blow for the police with all these losses within it.
“The whole Haitian family was hurt and plunged into deep sadness, including the large police family,” Elbé said. “But we are not going to give up and we are not going to stop in the fight against bandits.”
These changes follow the announcement of the Operation “Tornadoes 1” — launched by the PNH High Command to attack the gangs, which operate throughout the entire country.
However, on Jan. 30, Elbé appointed Municipal Commissioner Sergo Dasmy as the new head of the Toussaint Louverture International Airport police station, replacing Chief Commissioner Isaac Mérilien. He placed Divisional Commissioner Prophet Joachim as the new director of the Directorate of General Intelligence (DRG), replacing divisional commissioner Walmann Cétoute. Aladin Jean Louis, the main commissioner responsible for the Pétion-Ville jurisdiction, was transferred to the Central Directorate of Administrative Police (DCPA).
Last week’s demonstrations came after the killing of the seven police officers in Liancourt, in Artibonite, which itself followed the killing of four police officers in the commune of Pétion-Ville during an ambush in Metivier, reported the DGPNH.
To its credit, the Haitian police of late have increased the number of operations they undertake in neighborhoods around the capital and in the provinces, indicating that current PNH leaders are confronting the gangs already.
Yet, the violence continues, bringing with it atrocities such as the immolation of residents caught in the crossfire.
Community leaders also disagree with the police as the primary solution. One key reason is the endemic corruption on the force.