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Opinions of Monday, 16 October 2017

Columnist: Ayerakwa Prince

Crises of legitimacy in Ghana Police Force: Integrity fading to the shadows realm

People don't realize what's really going on in this country. There are a lot of things that are going on that are unjust. People aren't being held accountable for. And that's something which needs to change. That's something that this country stands for: freedom, liberty and justice for all (Colin Kaepernick).

The integrity in policing is important for maintaining legitimacy with the public given that, the police are empowered in democratic societies to protect individual rights and liberties, and uphold the law in a fair and impartial manner.

The duty of police official is to uphold security of the nation by combating crime and to ensure that people comply to rules, regulations and laws of the land. Unfortunately, the police force is losing its integrity that serves as cynosure to walk by in order to achieve justice in the country, hence the lapses in border management systems, the rising incidence of drug and human trafficking and the lacklustre police response to some critical situations . Through our education life, we pledged to be faithful and loyal to mother Ghana. But we grow only to deviate from the values that was implanted in us from infancy. Instead of focusing on achieving and promoting justice, they wake up and think of receiving some cedis by the roadside whiles on duty.

It is a common thing when travelling in Ghana that before a driver gets to a check point/barrier, he has to take 2 cedis or 5 cedis from his sales or sometimes even ask passengers if anyone has 2 cedis or 5 cedis. The pertinent question that keeps on reverberating in my mind is, were our police men and women trained for this? This is because they are usually smart in taking that meager amount without any shame since it has become part and parcel of them.

There was a time when I was travelling from Wa to Kumasi and the driver ran pass a check point and when the police tried to stop him, he just threw 2 cedis through the window. It was funny to see how a policewoman ran to take the money. And imagine if we were armed robbers, we would have escaped without any serious check.

Arguably, not all people are corrupt, and some never will, but as the Akan maxim says, "an old man who sits in repose and watch children eat viper at home is counted as one of them".

What is the criteria for police selection in Ghana? Do officers in charge go to the communities of those who applied to be enrolled into the police service to make inquiries about their lifestyles to see if they have records of stealing and other social vices? Absolutely not. It is about money and whom you know affair. This state of affair is unhealthy and injurious to our progress. Favouritism and nepotism has become a major canker to the growth and development of our country."

At the end of the day, some kleptomaniacs are called into the police force. That is why we have heard, if not witnessed, alleged links with armed robberies by the police in society. Some policemen also give out their guns to these bandits to operate. Cases of murder and robbery have occurred since time immemorial and our lives are still in shambles when walking on the streets at night. Criminal activities have proliferated our streets and controlled by drug addicts and corrupt businessmen.

Police corruption is rampant in our society. But who checks and reports them? The lack of supervisory oversight has led to misuse of authorities. There is a need for body camera recordings and tracking devices via Advent GIS to monitor their movement within each district.

The police force needs a rigorous and massive training to inculcate in them the spirit of honesty and mental toughness to handle complicated problems without getting stuck. For instance, Germany has a special established university which is the official and designated place at which all police newcomers undergo intensive studying and educational training before becoming physical on the field training.

This enables them to have the same knowledge of the justice system. As one guy funnily said, the only term used by the police in Ghana is "park well and you are under arrest".If journalists are to go round to interview our policemen and women about the justice system in Ghana, you will be shock to hear funny answers from some officials. This is one reason why during arrest, people are being manhandled. To be frank, the process of arrest in most cases is a crime in itself.

When the police get hold of a common thief, it is like hell - slaps from different directions whilst the " Woyomes" are walking freely. It is only in Ghana that little thieves are hanged but great ones escape. The police force have capitalized on the fears and ignorance of the people to treat them unfairly.

Constitutionally, no matter how grievous our crime might be, the arresting police ought to make it clear to us by words/actions that we are not free to go. We must always be cautioned on arrest. And we are also not subjected to torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and when they fail in this purpose, they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress (Martin Luther King, Jr.)

The lost of confidence in the police force is the main reason why people decide to deal with problems the way they think it should be, and a crystal example is lynching, a common phenomenon which has infiltrated the system. The failure to invest in civil justice is directly related to the increase in criminal disorder. The more people feel there is injustice the more it becomes part of their psyche. (Wilhelm Joseph).

There is poor networking in the police force in Ghana. In a dying situation, when you try calling an emergency number, there will be no response. Most of the citizens have no clue what the police emergency number is even about. The police force exercise superiority instead of working harmoniously with community members.

In some countries, there are internet police and Japan for instance train their police force into the cybercrime department to handle and prevent or bring to justice a numerous amount of digital crimes such as: child pornography, cyber bullying, downloading of illegal and unauthorized copyright content, hacking and the countless amount of things against the law by utilizing technology.

What can Ghana police force boast of? Minor crimes such as petty theft, mugging, missing cases are seen in a broad day light on our streets. And instead of checking speeding, driver's license and other insurance cards, they take 2 cedis and offenders are left with impunity. Are we safe? This is the main reason why when a driver is speeding on the way and a passenger tries to alert him, he will say "if you cannot, just get down, I bought the car". A numerous amount of nuisances is ruling this country, let's wake up and smell the coffee. Joining hands together we can achieve morally sound society that we can be proud to call our home.

Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted; the indifference of those who should have known better; the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most; that has made it possible for evil to triumph (Haile Selassie).