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Simpa Panyin: Police Recruitment and the Making of Ghana's Robbery Industry   
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Yesterday the President assured the nation that the government is providing the means to modernize the equipment being used by the Police, as well as increasing the Police numbers, to match the country’s growing population.

The President’s comments follows series of robbery attacks in Ghana since the beginning of the year. Some of the robbery attacks have resulted in the loss of lives and properties.

I am one of many voices that are afraid of the future of the security in this country. The President’s assurance is good, but it does not in any way quench my fears.

I am not an expert in security matters, but I am a highly conscious person when it comes to security. I have had some good training in security awareness, and how to ensure personal protection, and same has helped me in many ways, and that is why I write a lot about the Police.

Ghana has not been safe. Ghana is not safe. Ghana will not be safe, if we continue to do the same things, the same ways since we became corrupt in the ways we recruit people into our security agencies. We will not be safe if we continue to close our eyes and become so afraid to point out the rots that are happening during Police recruitment processes.

Yes, we need the Police numbers to increase. The universal visibility of the men and women in uniform is one way of psychologically feeling safe in the midst of fear.

But if we continue to increase the police numbers with thieves, if the police numbers are increased with people on protocol lists, increase the number with security men who will sleep with women while on duty, we will end up filling our streets with armed robbers in uniform, and we will end up with nothing.

My fear these days is not only the absence of police personnel, but sometimes the presence of same. Some of our men are so ill-prepared, so much so that they are more afraid than the civilians they are supposed to be protecting. This is what is leading to the Police sometimes shooting themselves, and sometimes shooting down victims of robbery, rather than the robbers they are supposed to go after; these are police people who are so afraid at the least threat, and in their fear, they just press the trigger at anything - no strategic policing, they just show up, and you could see fear in themselves as they walk around crime scenes.

Did you hear of Operation Cow Legs? Did you hear of Operation Calm Nerves? And did you hear of all those special operations that spring up in the midst of security crisis? These are all panic responses that are hardly strategic. They are as lame as the haphazard triggers that the junior rank Police Officers pull whenever they are afraid of their shadows.

Sometimes it feels to me that I am over writing about the Police. But that is exactly my point. We need to speak up. We need to rally more voices to raise issues. If we do not rise now, the criminals will rise tomorrow, and our lives will end in their hands.

Following from my last article on the Police, I have carefully observed every single police person I have come across, and I can confirm that any serious armed robber in this country is capable of gunning down every single police person I have come across in the last one month. The worst I have observed are those who are supposed to be guarding our banks. No bank worker should feel safe, thinking there is a gun-wielding Police person providing security for him at the Bank premises.

We are not safe. Our homes are not safe. Our work places are not safe. Our Police personnel looks so ordinary, so unprepared, so unaware, so vulnerable that I believe the only thing that has differentiated between them and our pregnant women, have been the uniforms they wear, and the guns they have wielded. Don’t you see, that, sometimes our market women looks more alert, active, and conscious than many of our men in uniform?

I have been fortunate to witness policing in some other jurisdictions around the world. Somewhere in the world, you meet a Police man, and you see, yes, this is a police man. He is active, fit, well poised, able to stand on his feet for hours, proudly alert to his environment, making sure that he himself is not vulnerable to any attacker.

I challenge any Police Station in this country to organize a 5-kilometer jogging (not running) exercise, for its men. I challenge any Police station in this country to parade its men, to stand on their feet for five hours, without fidgeting. You will see how many sudden deaths we shall record, and you will see how many of them will have their stomach falling off.

Nearly every single Police man on guard duties on the premises of our banks has been given a chair, to sit, to feel comfortable. Some are actually given small kiosks, with chairs and tables, to make themselves comfortable, while the banks are opened. And while on duty, they WhatsApp, they are on phone calls, they receive visitors, they are doing personal businesses, and some are womanizing.

How do you expect such a police person, to be alert to his environment, when you have provided him with so much comfort at post, to enable him forget the reason why he is there? The man is constantly on his phone. The man is chatting heartily with a fruit seller, and is completely oblivious of the danger surrounding him, how does he observe security intelligence, to suspect, that, that Lebanese who came to withdraw GHC200,000 from the bank is being trailed by armed robbers?

You don’t enter into the Police Service and expect to be made comfortable while at post, do you? The business of providing security is not for the lazy unemployed youth looking for easy route out of poverty, no!

The solution for the insecurity situation we face does not only lie in the increasing of Police personnel, it does not only lie in the increase in vehicles. The solution, first, rest with the purging of those who are recruiting into the forces. They are the ones who need exorcising of their greedy thoughts, to purge them of the demons that causes them to recruit wrong people.

I will like you to agree with me, that, it is the corrupt system that is providing fertile grounds for the upsurge of violent crime in this country. You are recruiting everyone; thieves, weak limbs, assorted drug addicts, lunatics, mentally unstable people being given guns to protect our banks.

What do you expect from such recruits? Are they not there only as solutions to their unemployment situations? That is why they run away at the least riots. How many times haven’t there been reports of police running away at crime scenes?

So Mr. President, congratulations, for your determination to increase the numbers of our Police persons, and increasing their resources. But if the filling of these Police vacancies are going to be done from the stock of your party foot soldiers, as was done when the previous government was in power, if we are going to recruit from those with connections, just for the sake of giving jobs to people of “Boys Abr3” fame, then, trust me, you will come back here, next year, with your spectacles flying in your face.

Give the Police recruitment exercise to professional recruiters, possibly outside of the Police, and let them recruit good Ghanaians. Remove any traces of protocol recruitment, and ensure that only Ghanaians who qualify are given the chance to enlist.

Then go deep into the service, and remove all those people in that black uniform who got into the Police service wrongly. Purge them of those who were 35 years old but who were recruited as 20 years. Those who were aided to pass through the backdoor, and for which reason they were never taken through any fitness test before being recruited, remove all those who are only wearing the uniform merely for the sake of drawing salaries, purge the service of the criminals who have found their ways up the ranks, Corporal, DSP, COP, OPC, or whatever the abbreviation there is that the thieve is occupying, get him out!
Source: James Kofi Annan

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