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Opinions of Sunday, 29 July 2018

Columnist: Jonas Owusu Ohemeng

The police public relationship in Ghana, my view

The primary function of the police is to protect its people and their properties. The police are to maintain law and order and create an enabling environment for the citizenry.

To achieve an effective policing, it should be citizen-driven and service focused. There should be a cordial relationship between the police and the society/community, hence the introduction of Community Policing concept a way of getting the people involved in policing, identifying problems and finding solutions. This makes the police very proactive in crime prevention and other activities.

Sir Robert Peele once said, “Police are the public and the public is police.”

This means police is part of the community and so in performing your as a police officer, one needs to be mindful of the human rights of the people he is serving. A police officer can legally use physical and even deadly force under certain circumstances in executing his or her duties but must be done with caution.

Any action of a police officer can bring either commendation or condemnation. If professionalism is exhibited by the Police, many of the public may applaud them but if it is the contrary then expect the public outcry.

Recently there have been many mishaps involving some police officers and this has raised public concerns about the protecting nature of the service. It is true that when there are police brutalities, they undermine the trust of the public in the service.

If the protector becomes the perpetrator, then we are not safe and so there should be measures to eliminate such police-public confrontation. The condemnation that came from the public should tell one that, the society only expects the best from their police.

As a society, we cannot do without police because we will become prey to the carnivorous criminals. We can also not accept that some police officers who are meant to protect us torture us. To avert this, citizens must be educated about their rights and the best way to report officers who abuse the application of the law.

The public should avoid any confrontation but rather use the appropriate channels in lodging their complaints against officers who mishandle them. The public should also not generalise the mistake of an individual officer to have a bad perception against all police officers and misbehave towards them. At least, there are some good ones.

People must desist from obstructing the police from performing their duties and stop provoking them. The powers that be must allow the police machinery to work devoid of any interference and intimidation, systems must be working for us as a nation. The “do you know me?” syndrome must also have better prescription.

The police administration should run capacity-building courses for their officers periodically on modern policing especially on their relationship with the public.

The gap between the police and public must be closed by employing the Community Policing concept at all the grassroots of the service. The Police administration should also organise counselling, stress management and psychotherapy sessions for their officers on regular basis.

I am saying this because it is a treat for the community if the one with the gun is stressed up. Again the police administration must be allowed to recruit qualified people and do their thorough vetting before enlistment.

To have a crime free and peaceful county, there should be cooperation between the police and the public. Let us join hands in making this a reality in policing the police as they police us.

The police is a friend and not a foe.