Towards a Modern and Professional Police Service

When you read the papers these days, you have mixed feelings. On the one hand, there are many reports of the police arresting many criminals of all sorts and you feel good about them. On the other hand, there are also many reports of trigger-happy police personnel killing innocent people and you feel bad about them. So which way, Ghana Police Service?

Let me share a few thoughts with Ghanaians in general and with the Police Service and their boss, the IGP, in particular. Police work is very risky and for those who brave the night and the risk involved in confronting all types of criminals and especially the armed robbers, I say bravo and God bless you!

However, there are some, apparently a few, who are a total disgrace to the police service. Some of them, especially the MTTU ones, are just there to collect bribes and extort money from people, especially drivers. Donít they know that checking overloading, reckless driving, drink driving, over-speeding, and the like, will go a long way to reduce drastically the carnage on our roads? They create the scenario that will seem to justify their demand for money. Only the other day, one of the MTTU personnel stopped my driver and in his bid to collect money at all cost, told my driver that his road worthiness certificate had expired in April 2006 so he was arresting him. He asked the driver to do something and when my driver told him that he had nothing to do, he told my driver that he the police man had the authority to detain the car so he seized the keys of the car. I was called in eventually and I had to report the case to an ASP with the road worthiness certificate of expiry date in October 2006, and this was clearly indicated on the sticker attached the windscreen.  The ASP scolded the MTTU personnel and asked him to apologize to me. Is this MTTU personnel an illiterate (for which he should not be in the police service) or he knowing created the scenario to extort money? Do the police know that they are not the authority, but rather the constitution (the law) is the authority?

Another type of the disgraceful ones think they have the authority to assault civilians at will. I currently have a case pending with the IGP where one of my workers was brutally assaulted and dumped into a cell with other criminals, only to show where power lies. 

Yet another type is the trigger-happy type who wants to practice shooting by killing innocent civilians. For now, there are many of such cases under investigation so I will reserve my comments.

We donít have to be only writing about these issues and see them recur all the time. Some solutions must be found and I suggest the following:

Ghana does not need 17,000 inefficient, uneducated, over-aged policemen and women. Prune the number down to about 10,000 within a year and maintain a ratio of 1,000 police personnel to 2,000,000 of the population. Donít you think one professional police personnel will be more efficient than two unprofessional ones? It should be quality, not quantity.
These 10,000 must be well trained, well resourced, and well paid.
There must be continual professional development for them. They must study the constitution and have the opportunity to attend short courses that will upgrade their professional competence. They must learn that the other name for the police is peace officer.
Any police personnel going on night duties must be supplied with bullet-proof vests and communication gadgets. In fact, the IGP must strategically modernize some of the police stations and patrol vehicles with necessary ICT gadgets that will introduce speed and efficiency to police operations.
Double (for now) the salaries of the remaining 10,000 and give them good retirement benefits.
For those to be pruned, some should go on direct retirement while the rest can be engaged in irrigation projects, in collaboration with the ministry of agriculture and the ministry of manpower development, to produce healthy vegetables for domestic consumption and for export.

I have not exhausted all possible problems and their solutions. But we must start from somewhere and I entreat the IGP to work diligently towards establishing a professional and modern police service whose personnel see civilians as their family members they are supposed to be protecting in the first place, not killing and assaulting them. Asking where the money is to carry out reforms will only be an excuse. Thanks for reading!

-Dr. Sitsofe Anku

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