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Opinions of Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Columnist: Ahanta Apemenyimheneba Kwofie III

Need for management support system in Ghana police

What happened at Tema few weeks ago, where a young police lance corporal booked AK47 assault rifle to go and kill his two children, the mother in-law and subsequently killed himself instead of numerous hardened criminals on our streets is one of several predisposition factors of people likely to have psychological and emotional problems in the police that got triggered.

It could be combined factors of psychological and emotional stress from both home and workplace that triggered such an unfortunate incident. A simple referral to see a psychologist could have helped matters to avert such an unfortunate incident.

Some of us have been advocating that police officers must be made to see psychologists once or twice a year considering the nature of our work and the stress that comes with it. We must constantly be assessed by these experts whether we are in the right frame of mind to carry guns around or perform certain duties.

Life in the police is a difficult one since one is always under constant pressure performing various forms of duties coupled with intimidation one has to bear from certain commanders or senior officers. The consequences are dire ones if a police officer comes home to meet a troublesome wife, husband or children. The story of the young police lance corporal might not be too different.

This is a young man whom the wife said that he has had a sudden change in behaviour in the last few months. What caused the change? Did somebody try to find out? This is a police officer who according to the wife, threatened to kill her and the case was reported to Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit (DOVVSU).

This is a police officer whom it has been reported that he has been abusing the wife constantly lately. Couldn't that be a suspected psychological and emotional problems?

I am very sure he was being investigated like a criminal when the case was reported at DOVVSU but what lacked was probably a recommendation that the police officer be made to see a psychologist to see whether he was psychologically balanced and emotionally stable.

All these while that the young police officer was being investigated for assault and threats on the life of the wife, his commanders and colleagues officers were probably looking on for the young police officer to solve his own problems up to a point where he felt he must end it all by taking the lives of some innocent people as well as his own.

No psychologically balanced and emotionally stable person goes about killing others and himself. He was certainly troubled with issues.

This young man after booking the rifle could have turned it on his unsuspecting colleagues and kill them or he could have gone to the street to start massacre innocent people and this could have been disastrous for the police administration. Isn't it? One always asks what management support systems has been put in place to curb some of these issues? I guess it's a rhetorical question.

We are practicing command or "do before complain" form of policing where the ultimate goal for the commander or the senior officer is the completion of the task irrespective of the emotional or psychological state of the person who is doing the task. Importance is laid on the work more than the human being who is doing the work and some of the accumulated effects are what triggered at Tema on Monday.

The police service lacks management support systems which can solve psychological and emotional stress but rather has systems that can worsen psychological and emotional stress of its personnel since they are constantly threatened with dismisal, disciplinary actions, insulted and always shouted upon in public by their commanders or senior officers.

This has created a relationship gap between senior officers and junior officers which is not helping effective policing in anyway. It threatens the safety of the society we are policing.

The sun has set upon Captain Glover form of policing where senior police officers think they must intimidate their subordinates to remain fearful and effective. We have gone passed that age. We are now in the era where personnel management is key and strategic to the success of the organisations which the police service is of no exception.

Human resource is the the only active resource in organization which can put all factors of production together to maximise production and the same can be said of police officer. Our guns cannot be shot by themselves, our vehicles cannot be driven by themselves unless they are employed by humans who are police officers that is why it is very needful to ensure that the police officer is sound in mind and emotionally stable.

The dawn is on us where senior police officers must not only be commanders but personnel management as well. Dynamism, effectiveness and success of senior police officers should not only be measured by rate of crime reduction under his or her area of command but how he managed the personnel under his command to achieve that feat.

We have come to the age where doors of commanders or senior officers must be opened to personnel with peculiar problems. The era where there is a bonding relationship between the senior officer and his or her subordinate for the sake of effective policing. We are in era of let's share our problems as police officers since it is said that problem shared is problem solved.

The senior police officer must be friendly, fair and firm to take care of some these issues. Senior officers or the commanders must not only command but should also be personnel management officers seeking to correct psychological and emotional stress of police officers serving under them.

We are likely to have more of police officers booking rifles to go home to wipe out their family members just as it happened in Tema or situations where personnel who have endured constant pressures from their commanders or senior officers will take guns and turn on them and start to kill them.

We will have situations where police officers who are supposed to protect lives and properties will rather turn to take lives and destroy properties because we have laid much emphasis on command or " do before complain" form of policing more than personnel management form of policing. The two must go hand in hand for effective policing for a safer society.

What happened at Tema is clear sign of lack of personnel management and support systems in police service and a lesson for us all to learn both junior officers and senior officers. Problem shared is problem solved so we must always be in position to lend a shoulder to people going through some psychological trauma and emotional instabilities.

It should not always be go to duty or face a "charge". Abnormal behaviours must be investigated. There should be management support systems and programmes to intervene in some of these cases. What surprises me is the fact that most of the senior officers or the commanders we have in the police have backgrounds in psychology yet these are happening.

Writer's e-mail: dkwofie17@gmail.com