Osman Gbla talks about the double-edged transition that Sierra Leone has undergone, both from war to peace and from authoritarianism to multiparty democracy. Post-war reconstruction created an opportunity to overhaul the entire security sector. Within the police, reformers changed management structures; created a single department for complaints, discipline and internal investigation; implemented community policing structures that set up local boards across the country; overhauled recruitment and training procedures; and upgraded equipment. The reforms, initially driven by the British and other donors, have been taken over by Sierra Leoneans. Gbla believes that as a result of these reforms, public confidence in the police has grown. However, he notes that sustaining the reform effort will be difficult without continued financial support from donors and international partners.
At the time of this interview, Osman Gbla was dean of the faculty of social science and law for Fourah Bay College at the University of Sierra Leone and founder the Center for Development and Security Analysis. He earned a doctorate, a master's degree in political science and bachelor's degrees from Fourah Bay College. He also received a diploma in advanced international conflict resolution from Uppsala University in Sweden. Gbla carried out several consultancies individually and collaboratively for national, regional and world bodies including the United Nations, World Bank and the Economic Community of West African States. His research covered peace, security and development in West Africa.