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General News of Monday, 23 July 2018

Source: Myjoyonline.com

We know the problem; now, a solution to end excessive police force - Prof. Attafuah

Following the backlash of a police officer brutally assaulting a woman with her grandchild at Midland Savings and Loans at its East Legon branch, crime experts and law personnel are now suggesting that the Ghana Police Service must be reframed and retrained – immediately.

We must improve police-community relations and give them the proper training,” said criminologist and lawyer, Professor Kenneth Agyeman Attafuah, on the Joy FM Super Morning Show Monday. “It is crucial that personnel be trained to understand and internalise administrative justice skills.”

Through Prof. Attafuah’s research, he found that between 2009 and 2013, not one single investigative report on police brutality was followed up on. And he expressed concern that the Service’s lack of attention to excessive force could end up desensitising the nation.

To fix this, he says there must be a “compelling duty [for officers] to improve their anger management skills,” because there appears to be “a decline in our human rights. We must stop the trend and create a huge paradigm shift in the direction of the civil liberties of citizens.”

Section 1 of the Ghana Police Service Act, 1970 (Act 350) says that “it shall be the duties of the Police Service to prevent and detect crime, to apprehend offenders and to maintain public order and safety of persons and properties.”

The Police Service, Prof. Attafuah disclosed, should only be used under the following conditions: it must be legal, it must be necessary and it must be in proportion to what is being faced.

“There must be accountability when lethal force is used,” he added.

Meanwhile, the bank where the assault occurred has issued an apology and has since suspended their entire staff for failing to intervene. A Midlife Savings and Loans spokesperson wrote in a statement that they are willing to cooperate with police to ensure disciplinary actions are taken against the officer.

Deputy Managing Director of Midland Savings and Loans, Isaac Mensah, in a statement issued Monday said, they are willing to cooperate with police to ensure disciplinary actions are taken against the officer.

The victim, Patience Osafo, told Peace FM that she was turned away for nearly a week every time she attempted to withdraw Gh?270 from her account.

At around 4:30pm Friday, she began protesting which led to the scuffle between her and the officer, she said. Since then, she has filed a formal complaint at a local police station. The officer, Frederick Amanor, has since been arrested.

“It is a crying shame,” said Prof. Attafuah. “We have given power to the police and we have given them the instruments of violence to engage in criminal behavior.”

But he’s optimistic that there can be change if the Service is ready and prepared to properly train its recruits. He understands that "police force is inevitable, but it is only to be used when it is strictly necessary.”