We are not safe when our police force is under siege everywhere in the country.
And, where do we go from here when our police force is defenceless and public safety is at its state of doldrums?
Supposedly, the Ghana Police is to “pray for safety and divine protection”. Excuse me! What about a comprehensive megawatt alteration of the entire police service and its basic antique structures?
I had just started reading about the news item on the “transformation of Ghana Police Service” which was proposed by the IGP when the news of the cell break-in and murder of a police officer at Kwabenya police station hit the airwaves.
As if that was not enough to shake up the nation’s law enforcement agencies’ equilibrium, another revelation hit the news: ”A police officer allegedly has confessed to taking Gh10,000 from a parent of one of two robbers, who were jailed for a robbery incident”—oh, Lordy!. The rotten apples are making the good ones look very, very bad.
Oh yes, it’s nice to talk about the “transformation of the police service”, however, how good is it when the beneficiaries of the so-called ‘transformation’ are paradoxically are both victims and perpetrators of major crimes?
Seriously, the Ghana Police Service needs more than just ‘transformation’. It needs to be completely redesigned and tuned-up if it wants to be a “first-class policing institution in Africa”.
Honestly, for it to be a premium institution it needs to overhaul these areas: recruitment, training, policies and procedures, in-service training, accommodation, logistics, and total adoption of dogs in its arsenal. In other words, a total modernization of the police force is needed in order to be in tempo with time and the kinds of criminal elements we have in our midst now.
Well, there are plenty of ideas and suggestions being floating around, however, let’s concentrate on the recent development at Kwabenya police station for now.
As usual, Ghanaians have the tendency to focus exclusively on the source of funds instead of finding the solutions to a problem. Instead of focusing on our vision which can allow us to see through any obstacles, the first thing we focus on is the ‘roadblocks’ because we don’t have the capacity to visualize the outcome of our goals. And, the incident at Kwabenya police station is definitely going to be treated as such.
The modernisation of the police service and its stations will be seen as a capital-intensive endeavour, therefore “it can’t be done overnight”. We have been operating on the mindset of “don’t fix it if it ain’t broke” for years and that is why every institution in the nation is in bad shape.
But, we shouldn’t talk about lack of money to fix the police service and its headaches when we waste a lot of resources through various dubious schemes we deliberately design to milk the system to death. Do you remember the $72 million we spent on the software? Couldn’t we have done something meaningful with that kind of money to upgrade our police service?
The point is, to make our police personnel and stations well secured we have to redesign the charge offices and cells with electronic controlled devices.
In the developed countries (specifically, USA) every police station is designed in such a way that it will be impossible for any break-ins to occur or an unwanted person to enter the main entrance.
First, the main entrance is electronically controlled by an officer who is stationed in a bullet-proof glass booth inside the building. He also controls the access to the cell which is behind his station. No one (absolutely, no one) can open the door leading to where the officer is stationed and the cell without the officer’s input or approval.
And once you enter the main lobby you can’t even get out of the building without the officer’s approval. He has total control of all the doors in the building.
In the United States of America, dare I say they have more sophisticated criminal elements on their streets than what we have in Ghana, therefore crime rate is very high so is police officers’ homicide rate. In other words, American police officers are frequently killed in the line of duty because of the level of their crime rate.
However, the only equalizer is their ability to think ahead of the criminals or the in-service training they go through every six months to hone their law enforcement skills and design new methods of their trade. Remember marksmanship is a skill that needs constant practice. The questions are these: As a Ghanaian police officer, when was the last time you went to the shooting range to practice since you came out of the Police Depot? How often do you read public -safety related materials? What about creative hand-cuffing techniques? How much have you invested your time in 21th-century police officers’ safety tips? And since police officer’s safety starts from home, how secured is your home life? What about learning to avoid fatal contact and deadly viruses that may lurk figuratively in the shadows of the streets you police every day? I hope you get my point clearly now!
The only difference between Ghanaian police officers and that of the American law enforcement officers is that they’re well-equipped and they put much premium on constant in-service in every area of their work. They also don’t leave anything to chance or luck because anything can happen — I mean anything!
Unfortunately, Ghana police personnel is under siege lately across the land .And, it makes us (the citizenry) wonder if we have any protection at all in this country. It’s very scarily.
Once we are on police’s security we need to decentralize the officers’ dwellings. Why do they live in the barracks instead of around the police stations or spread around the neighborhood of the town or city they police?
Another important thing is that the Ghana police service (how can I put it delicately?) has lost its respect and integrity as far the citizenry is concerned—it’s a gospel truth! Therefore, to be an effective institution it needs to get back to the basics. To get back to its good reputation it needs an independent investigation team that is under the auspices of the Attorney General. This outfit will take every allegation against any police officer and do a thorough investigation and come out with findings. With this kind of arrangement it will stop the police from policing itself whenever one of its members commits a crime. The police can’t have autonomy like the Armed forces because of its operations and contact with the citizenry. This is how it’s done in the united States.
The same outfit will do the background check of all the recruits, to ascertain that we get the high caliber of officers who are ‘pure’. I’m talking about officers who will follow strict police service’s procedures and policies—that means they won’t make tactical or deliberate human errors and cut corners.
The world is witnessing the resurgence of crime waves— terrorism against the innocent citizenry and its police forces .The way out is to outsmart the criminals. But how do we do it when sometimes the ‘criminals’ are those who supposed to enforce the laws? This is war so it can’t be fought with Rhetoric.
Nevertheless, the police work is a tough profession with no reward. While the loudmouthed critics, politicians, and the so-called community leaders and experts are safe in their homes and mansions, the police officers will have to be dealing with the criminals and ‘societal rejects’, all of it in mostly unfamiliar and hostile environment and most of it under uncertain or apprehensive circumstances.
Since police work is a behavior control business, it follows that there are those people who will wait for their chance to hurt, beat, kick, curse at or shoot and kill our officers in the line of duty, if they feel they have the physical or psychological opportunity.
By: Kwaku Adu-Gyamfi (CEO of Lion Gate Associates)