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Opinions of Thursday, 1 June 2017

Columnist: Augustine A. Appiah

Combating crimes through Police visibility in communities

Some Ghanaians relished lynching; a reason police visibility in communities is the surest way to prevent the upsurge of criminal and voilent acts.

There is a general perception that Ghana is a peaceful country. Sure, Ghana is not on the edge of a full blown civil conflict. However, there exist consideration threats that question and shaken the country's stability and peacefulness.

Indubitably, there is the acculturation of violence in Ghana. We need to, inter alia, prioritize police visibility in communities as a national policy to extirpate the culture of sordid violent behavior among the people.

Many years ago, growing up as a kid in a very popular town in Kumasi, indeed, it is the first to think of at mention of kumasi, I saw plenty, distasteful mob actions. There were hardcore residents who were known to be friends of the prisons - they are arrested and return to the community, the soonest.

Sometimes, you see them with bruises all over their body: thus a result of away 'match'. They were known not to steal or rob in the town. But woe betides any 'foreign' thief who steals in our town or who is being chased and enters it. Doom - at once, he becomes a lifeless body.

It is no gain saying that some Ghanaians make statements or exhibit actions that reinforce, perpetrate and perpetuate violent conducts.

The people's disrespect and disregard of the rules and regulations that are suppose to guide activities are premised on the assumption and, truly, the reality that the police will be available after they have 'finished' with a suspect and all the perpetrators have absconded. It is highly unlikely for the police to get any evidence to prosecute anyone if the lynchers are not apprehended on the crime scene.

The police will just come for the body. End of the story. Not because the police is not willing to ensure there is justice, but who will betray whom? In the circumstance of the gruesome murder of Captain Maxwell Mahama, were it not the use of modern technology to videotaped the sorrowful and disgusting acts, it would only have taken a retaliation of brutality on the people of Diaso by the loyal comrades of the murdered soldier to identify the culprits. Even in the midst of video evidence, the military had to frightened and fished out the mobsters. The videos saved matters.

Some Ghanaians have internalised silence not to unravel lynchers and rioters. They seem to like the sheer mention that an armed robber has been killed. On the lynching of a suspect, passers-by would praise God, "Onyame n'atua ne ka paa" to wit, "God has punished him." The best anyone will do would be to call a radio station or the police after the suspect has been shamefully murdered.

Since there is an ecstasy over the 'fall of an enemy,' everyone would be tight-lipped on police investigation. There is a strict community norm not to disown the 'heroes.' The community cannot be trusted to handover murderers. That is the reason government is created.

Therefore, violent conducts especially vigilantism and mob actions should be controlled through the criminal justice system and not only in investigating, arresting, prosecuting, and sanctioning the culprits apprehended, in few cases or if any, at the crime scenes but most importantly criminal behaviours can be avoided or minimized extremely through increased and comprehensive police visibility in communities which not only has the positive effects of instilling fear and disincentivising people from committing crimes but, in addition, stimulate good people-police relation as well as intensify police response to violent scenes.

When there are the real presence of police patron teams in conmunities, police on streets and police tents in strategic points, it discourages the people from engaging in crimes. It is when crimes are prevented, will there be no criminals to punish to deter others from indulging in inhuman, heinous and callous criminal behaviours.