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Opinions of Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Columnist: Mohammed Abdul Hanan EL-Saeed

Elections 2016: Police must uphold service regulations

As elections 2016 beckons, the nation like in all other previous elections expects all Police personnel of the Ghana Police Service to continuously work hard without fear or favour, do right to all manner of people and to jealously guard the peace,harmony and unity of our country.

We have no other country to call home except Ghana.

Elections will always come and go every four years. Politicians, political parties, and governments will come and go. But the state Ghana, its people and Police Service will always remain.

In view of this, at all times, as police officers, we must always be guided by the constitution of the Republic, the police service Act 350/70, the police service regulations Act, the police service instructions and the code of ethics governing the police service.

We have no choice but to lead the way in respecting the laws of our land first before any other citizen will follow suit. We must always be professional in going about our duties.

Our strict adherence to the guidelines, rules and regulations as enshrined in above documents governing the day to day running of the service will help us work to achieve greater peace for our nation and its people to live freely and work peacefully without hindrance.

The police service as part of a small unit of the proverbial "people with a common destiny" are connected to each other and are part of bigger nation called Africa and humanity so we cannot fail the people now just because we are going for elections.

This is not the first time we are going to be involved in election duties and it will certainly not be the last time. In fact, we have done so well since 1992 and we cannot fail our people in 2016.

To achieve this, trust is an important and a key ingredient in the sense that if we don't behave in a way that earns us the trust of the people, how can we police the ballots at the polling centers on election day?

As a young officer, I have seen a couple of election duties and I must say this one doesn't appear to be any different from the previous elections. What we need is to work according to rules and operational orders.

There is nothing extraordinary about December 2016 elections if you ask me.

The stakes may appear very high for the politicians and the political parties, but that shouldn't shake us for a minute as officers who have seen it all when it comes to elections security.

What elections 2016 should rather do to us is to embolden and challenge us to even work a lot more than we have done in the past just so that we can prove to the world that Ghana police service has arrived.

We have done it before and we can do it again.

As officers of the law, we must always see every single Ghanaian as a special gift to this nation who deserves our special protection, security and attention.

The bigger picture of a peaceful Ghana must always be our overriding motivation and inspiration to work conscientiously at all times in a manner that does not scare any section of the population or put fear in them especially during, before and after national elections.

This must be our major responsibility as a service, this year in particular.

Recently, I was so dumbfounded, ashamed and shaken to the marrow when I read in the news that a police constable was involved in a disgustingly shameful bracing partisan politics against all the Acts and Regulations of the service barring all security officers from engaging in politics.

As I read the news, all I could say was that "I don't think this guy has ever sat in a recruit classroom neither has he ever read any of the police books otherwise he wouldn't be doing this "

I pray someone takes the gentleman through some refresher course to learn how to behave as a police officer.

That gentleman, I must say, is not the only person engaged in this uneducated unwarranted disloyal behavior where police officers are seen engaging in partisan politics. Many of such misfits are all over the place knocking and beating their chest publicly and declaring their support for one political party or the other.

I still cannot understand why some people can be carried away by their fantasies like that publicly in a service full of laws and regulations that has the constitutional duty to enforce laws.

If you cannot abide by simple rules and regulations how can you enforce laws?

If you know you cannot live by the regulations of the service barring you from engaging in active partisan politics, why don't you just do the honorable thing by resigning from the service?

As police officers, we must be seen always to be using our brains to think clearly and read between the lines before taking any decision. We must never allow ourselves to think from our stomachs.

We must always pay careful attention to our work especially as we approach elections.

Our understanding of the electoral laws of the country will help us deliver a peaceful election to our people. If we learn the electoral laws, we will know our left from right on elections day.

I will leave readers with the following quotations from some of our codes of ethics, service instructions and regulations...

Regulation 82(1)(c)(i) of the police service regulations Act 2012 says "it shall be a major offense for an officer to engage in an activity outside official duties which is likely to involve the officer in a political controversy.

Some of our core values are;

1. Protect the rights of Ghanaians

2. Be impartial, respectful, open and accountable to the community.

3. Neutrality i.e. take initiatives but do not take sides.

As part of our code of ethics...

We are under strict obligation to act impartially and in accordance with existing laws, which must be enforced on all persons in the same way.

We are not supposed to discriminate, torture or met out ill treatment to any person.

We are supposed to respect and protect human dignity, maitain and uphold the rights of all persons.

Any police officer worth his salt who can read and understand the above will never be see publicly supporting any political party in this country.

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