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Opinions of Friday, 27 May 2016

Columnist: Daily Guide

EDITORIAL: IGP, walk the talk

The Ghana Police Service yesterday hosted the media for an interactive session to discuss how the two can collaborate to ensure peaceful polls in November.

Coming at the heels of a previous engagement with the military, we found it auspicious, given the leading role the police play in internal security operations as mandated by law.

We found the interaction invaluable as it offered an opportunity for both media practitioners and law enforcement agents to pour their hearts out on challenges which militate against harmonious collaboration between them during crucial national exercises such as elections.

We salute the IGP as we did the CDS for hosting the programme which, as we understood him, is part of a series towards November 7. Sincerity, in our opinion, should be the watchword in police/media relations: largely the law enforcement agents are not forthcoming with information even when these are needed for news packaging.

We agree with the police when they said that while the media are pushed for time to work on stories, the police would need more of this in order not to scuttle investigation. Under such circumstances, the two must fashion out a way of coming to a compromise as a means of managing the divergence. Perhaps such periodic encounters when they are institutionalised can address the challenge.

Ensuring cordial police/media relationship is a tough one, a tall order if you like. The two have never been good bedfellows but always manage to get by both of them playing their respective roles in moving the nation forward.

It is our hope that what the IGP told his guests are from the bottom of his heart: promises when they fail to materialise, break bridges and this is what we do not want to happen.

There is no reason why the media would want to throw the country into turmoil through irresponsible management of news. We must be quick, however, to add that just like there are bad cops, so are there awful media practitioners.

It was instructive that during the interactive session a media practitioner observed that some of his colleagues engage in unethical practices on the airwaves and these, as he put it, could be detrimental to the objective of the engagement.

Insulting conduct on air when extended to the election period would not inure to the attainment of the peace we are all cherishing. We can only appeal to the consciences of such persons to support the police to ensure peaceful election.

The police too must protect their personnel on election duties from bad politicians who because they want to have their ways regardless of how their wishes could constitute breaches of the public order act, push law enforcement to be unprofessional.

Police personnel who stand up to such bad politicians must be protected by the Police Administration: the victimisation of transfers and delayed promotions are crude and morale dampening.

It was refreshing to hear the IGP give assurance that he would protect his personnel from the arbitrariness of bad politicians. We do hope that he would walk his word because this would encourage personnel to discharge their duties without apprehension.

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