NEWS COMMENTARY ON RECENT KILLING OF PERSONNEL OF THE GHANA POLICE SERVICE.
There is a saying that, “if people do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?” This can be paraphrased to mean if the criminals are killing the security personnel, what will happen when they mean to kill civilians? Yes, it is a very important question to look at as the odds are severely against the citizens of this country in respect of safety and security. With the rising number of killings of police personnel in this country recently, it appears that the safety and security of the citizenry appear very gloomy but the security experts say it is not that bad. What makes the situation bothersome is the fact that, the very security personnel who are supposed to provide security to the citizens are themselves not secured.
In Akan, there is a fascinating adage which literally means, when a naked person promises you clothing, listen to his name. The killings of the police, these days are becoming one too many and such situation creates the impression that there is something not basically right with the Ghana Police Service. Just this week, two police officers have been killed at Manso Nkwanta in the Ashanti Region and Akyem Swedru in the Eastern Region. The Nation has not forgotten the sad and brutal killing of Corporal Agartha Nana Nabin by unidentified gunmen at a checkpoint on the Kumbungu road. Early last year, a Police officer died after he was shot when a gang stormed the Kwabenya District Police headquarters to free suspected armed robbers who were in custody. The list could go on and on. When the police are victims under such circumstances, the police hierarchy is quick to act to find culprits.
What actually is the basic challenge facing the Ghana Police Service? This obviously must end because it sends signals of insecurity to the general public. Again, it dampens the confidence of the citizenry in the police who is mandated to ensure the internal security of the country. Just last year, nearly 3,000 illicit small arms were seized at crime scenes and confiscated by the Law Courts and destroyed. The exercise was the sixth in recent times undertaken by the National Commission on Small arms and Light Weapons, in collaboration with the security agencies but indications are that there could be more still in the system. There is a statutory unit within the police service, The Central Firearms Registry, CFR which is responsible for registering and licensing of firearms within the country. It is also, “to ensure effective management, that the Unit was placed under the direct supervision of the Head of the Criminal Investigation Department, CID of the Ghana Police Service.” One would ask to what extent has this been achieved or complied with. It’s a known fact that the Ghana Police Service, lacks the requisite numbers to work effectively. Elsewhere, it is very real to spot one police officer on duty. In Ghana the police are seen on duties especially at the banks alone thus putting themselves in danger. The 30,000 workforce of the service are considered by expects as woefully inadequate. This is because it does not meet the United Nations, UN standard of one police officer to 500 citizens.
Ghana’s ratio is rather one police officer to over 900 citizens, far below the UN requirement and very unsafe for the people and the service. Besides the numerous vehicles provided by the government recently, the service is still under resourced. Police personnel are seen in pickup buckets for operations and without bulletproof vests. In occupational world, Personal Protective Equipment, PPE is key in the safety and effective discharge of duties.
So, it is expected that for the police whose work is not an ordinarily one but that of safety and security, the use of PPE is a major issue, which needs to be critically, looked at and addressed. If the criminals are now killing the police then it could be concluded that crime in this country has become enjoyable and easy to commit because the criminals are convinced that they could always commit such distressing crimes and get away with it. Fingerprint, CCTV, forensic professional negotiators and other crime detection facilities and personnel are either not available or inadequate.
Who then, talks about this? The personnel are just tight-lipped about the bad conditions under which they work for the fear of victimiSation but it is important that the police and the entire Ghanaian population do not take the peace we are enjoying for granted.
BY NANA SIFA TWUM, A COMMUNICATIONS CONSULTANT BASED IN THE UK.