A couple of days ago, a judge decided that six policemen who have been standing trial for robbing a Ghanaian tourist of thousands of dollars, must go to jail. He found them guilty of the crime for which they were arraigned.
The judge did not arrive at the decision without basis and it is worrying to think that policemen, some with many years of experience in the service, would engage in such a misdemeanour. The decision has put paid a long and tortuous legal procedure in which thousands of Ghanaians showed avid interest.
The interest and curiosity showed in the case by many Ghanaians was understandable given that the accused are law enforcement agents who should be the last persons to do what they were said to have done. It was outright conspiracy and we shudder to think that there are still a number of bad nuts in the Ghana Police Service. That we cannot run a police-less country worsens our worry because we are then saddled with the imperative task of fishing the bad nuts and showing them the exit from the otherwise respectable organisation.
Therein lies the challenge for both the Ghana Police Service, as an institution which manages the personnel charged with law enforcement, and the rest of Ghanaians who constitute the main stakeholders. There is no doubt that identifying the bad nuts and weeding them out is a formidable challenge, a task which requires the cooperation of members of the general public and the police establishment. The establishment of the Police Intelligence and Professional Standards (PIPS) was to forestall and manage professional misdemeanour in the internal security organization.
We do not have any cause to condemn the performance of the unit since its inception, given that it has managed a number of tasks bordering on misconduct of personnel. We do however expect that the unit would have done more in the area of expedited action on cases brought before it. There have been instances of complainants getting frustrated over delayed cases and even showing semblance of pussyfooting.
The Ghana Police Service, as a respectable institution, has suffered a lot of image challenges brought upon it by persons who enlisted with the motive of making plenty money by all means.
Unfortunately, when such persons go down in their quest to satisfy their greed and avarice as witnessed a couple of days ago, they do so with a piece of the institution’s image. It is difficult to salvage a damaged image, especially when dealing with people who have suffered directly or indirectly, the repercussions of the mis-conduct of defaulting policemen.
If only there could be an alternative method of screening potential policemen and women before enlistment, we would have gone for it.
Suffice it, however, to note that even while we continue with the normal system, there is the need to do background checks on potential constables. A constable wields a lot of discretionary powers which can make the difference between life and death, good or evil. It behooves on the germane authorities therefore to adopt acceptable practices in enlisting potential constables.
A motor traffic constable has the power to stop and arrest a defaulting motorist, his or her status in society notwithstanding. An armed constable can decide whether to fire at a vehicle or not. Such discretions call for the enlistment of persons who can be trusted to do what is right. The error of enlisting persons with dubious characters is a major factor in the prevalence of bad nuts in the Ghana Police Service.
There is the need to take another look at the training and recruiting manuals, with a view to reviewing these and therefore obviating the image-denting show enacted at the court on Tuesday and others which are going on in the dark.
The challenge of restoring confidence in the police by the rest of us should start now and all of us including the Ghana Police Service management should join hands towards that direction. We should not allow the image of the police to continue the downward spiral; it is not in our interest. As for the defaulters, they deserve what they got and may we not encounter such an abominable act on the part of police personnel anymore.
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