You are here: HomeWallOpinionsArticles2018 07 20Article 670560

Opinions of Friday, 20 July 2018

Columnist: Ahanta Apemenyimheneba Kwofie III

When a police officer is killed by suspected robbers it is not news but when suspected robbers die that makes news

The story of Ghanaian police and people suspected to have been killed in robbery expeditions is like the journalism story of a dog biting a man which is not news but when the man bites a dog, it suddenly turns out to be worthy news.

We have seen in this country lawyers, human rights activists, journalists, security experts lambasting the police here and there should people suspected to be robbers die during police operations but the very same people submerge into deep waters when suspected robbers kill police officers. They suddenly vanish into thin air and I find it very interesting.

I sometimes expect them to put the same pressure on the government and the police administration to ensure that the police officer is well protected and adequately equipped but that is never the case.

It seems they love to criticise the police for their own popularity but not to move a worthy motion which will go a long way to make policing better in Ghana.

Some of these people argue weirdly that the police should arrest armed criminals with their hands and prosecute them and I always ask in this current state where the police officer is not well protected? It's funny sometimes I must say.

When a dog bites a man, no journalist in Ghana will be interested in reporting it even though the one bitten stands the chance of contracting rabies which is a killer disease. This dog might be left to roam from community to communities posing serious health dangers to people until such a time that somebody decides to kill this dog to make the same communities safer but guess what happens?

Immediately this dog is killed, the owner will definitely owns up and possibly you might get a journalist to report on the death of this dog and captions it, "MAN CRUELLY KILLS A POOR MAN'S DOG". The journalist might even go ahead to give the dog a beautiful pet name and describe how it uses to chase thieves away and the kind of companion it was to the owner.

In short, when a dog bites a man, they say it's a not news but when a man rather bites a dog, that one turns out to be news though both the dog and the man have canine and incisors that they use to tear flesh.

The story of dogs biting men and not being news and men biting dogs which turns out to be news has been the case with the Ghanaian Police and robbers in recent times and this tells how society is prejudiced and tilted against the police. It again tells that the only person whose life is being rented for free by the state is that of the police. They can be killed for free.

Just last week at Manso Nkwanta in the Ashanti Region, it was reported that 8 robbers came face to face with 2 police officers. At the end of it, the two police officers sustained serious gunshot wounds which led to the eventual death of one of the police officers.

At the scene, as many as 27 empty shells of AK47 rifle ammunition were retrieved. The police, later on, followed up and retrieve cache of arms and ammunition from the hideouts of these robbers and with all these, the media and the so-called journalists never made any meaningful story out it. No one discussed it on air.

When a police officer dies or gets killed by robbers, it's not news in Ghana. You don't even hear their family members talking about it or registering their displeasures about how the ordinary police officer is poorly resourced and not well protected to carry out his duties. No one talks about it. In fact, who cares whether a police officer is dead or alive. Not even the wife, the children, father, mother or anybody.

If he is a Muslim, he is quickly buried in accordance with Islamic traditions and that's all. If he is a Christian too, you don't even hear his pastors or church members voicing out about the death of a police officer. No one is prepared to violently take to streets to demonstrate but I can understand it.

The police officer has sworn oaths to protect lives and properties of the citizenry and even to the point of death so no big deal if he dies or gets killed by robbers. Yeah, that is it. In the case of the police officers, no one cares so thousand (1000) of them can be killed in a day but still no one minds.

Another ten or twenty thousands of them can die the following day and all that will happen is that the IGP will come out and say he is committed to resource the police and it ends there. The interior minister together with few government appointees will run a few commentary on it and that ends it.

The other side of the story is emphatically true. When the police kills one person, hell breaks loose and no matter how the police try to explain the circumstances which led to the death of that person, no one will believe the police. That is when you see major news networks running all sort of stories about the police, questioning their professional deliveries and integrity. That is when the so-called security experts who are only experts in theoretical aspects of security are called in to make opinions about the operations of the police.

But you know what? These killings will continue to happen if the police is poorly resourced and not well protected to combat violent crimes like robbery because it is a matter of who pulls the trigger first that survives. Don't wait for you to be killed. Kill first if possible to stay alive as a police officer and that is where we are nearing because both the police administration and the government failed to protect the police officer adequately to combat violent crimes like robbery.

The death of these 7 suspected robbers should be the turning point for all of us to ensure that the police is well resourced and protected to chase robbers, immobilise them and arrest them with their bare hands as Ghanaians want it to be.

Until such a time that the police officer is jacked up with bulletproof vests and ballistic helmets to protect his head and necessary accoutrements to protect his vital organs to stay alive during robbery operations, the best way to survive is to first fire suspected robbers more especially if you signal them to stop and they fail to stop.

No one should fault their family members to call for justice and probes into the deaths of these 7 deceased suspected robbers. Life once lost cannot be replaced so it is prudent to call for independent enquiry into the death of these 7 suspected robbers and I don't fault them. I have equally and countless times advocated probes into police deaths so I see nothing wrong with the family members calling for independent probes. The probe might redefine police standards of operations and go a long way to re-echoe the loud calls to adequately resources the police.

It also tells us that, it is time to set up an independent commission to probe every death resulting from police operations being that of a police officer or that of a civilian.

It should be balanced because police lives matter too. Who knows whether the probe will make it evidently clear whether the police did their best under the circumstances? We should be confident as police service but not kill innocent souls though.

Society is dearly paying for the price of poor resourcing of the police and we are all at risk - both the police and the civil populace.