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Opinions of Sunday, 17 January 2021

Columnist: Samson Lardy Anyenini

Anyenini LegalLight: Stop abusing the uniform, police

The police uniform is the chief reason fellow citizens listen when you shout at them and they may not reply in like fashion. It is why they submit to you even at their displeasure and may not put up any resistance. Try it without the uniform! It is not exactly because you may hold a gun, because some have guns or simply don’t fret at the sight or sound of a gun.

Citizens are aware you are a peace officer paid to ensure their safety and protection. Unless some extreme situation demands it, don’t berate or maltreat any person whatever the crime they may be suspected of, because the Constitution in article 19 commands you to treat a suspect as being innocent until they voluntarily admit their guilt or are so pronounced by a court.

Do remember also that you do not have a job and cannot make any success without the people you treat badly and wrongly. It felt terrible watching the video of the police officer said to be Sergeant Solomon Tackie shout at passengers in a trotro to disembark just so he could deal with the drivers’ conductors [mate as we popularly call them] whom he accused of conduct in breach of the law – calling out for potential passengers before the trotro pulled up at a Legon bus stop.

Your kind continues to give the police a bad name. Acting with a colleague, you reportedly arrested The Finder newspaper reporter and detained him in the Legon police cells because he will not hand over his phone. Selorm Gborbidzi’s crime was that he filmed your altercation with the passengers who accused you of acting drunk and wrecking of alcohol.

Dear citizens and journalists, I repeat this education for the umpteenth time that there is no such criminal offence as taking pictures or filming adults including those in uniform engaged in newsworthy acts in the public space. The Executive Secretary of the National Media Commission, George Sarpong Stresses that the public deserves to know about these acts through the eyes of the media. Let no ignorant or errant bully in uniform intimidate you with the false claim as they told Mr Gborbidzi that he will be charged with the nonexistent offence of “illegally snapping videos of a police officer on duty.” The lame claim of charging him with the offence of obstructing of a police officer on duty will not fly because there is nothing obstructionist about carrying out your job as a journalist in such circumstance.

Some officers did a similar thing in Kumasi when a journalist took pictures of them for unlawfully packing people in the bucket of a police pick up vehicle. Unless your phone or such device is evidence of a crime, they do not have the right to seize it, let alone access its contents without a court order. That’s your legal light!