I can count the number of accidental shots and ‘stray bullets’ Ghana Police Officers have fired and buried in innocent people to take them to their early graves. The perpetrators of such crimes have gone unpunished, so the idea of placing arms in the hands of officers of  Motor Transport and Traffic Department  (MTTD) of Ghana Police working on the street is threatening.

I seriously sympathize with the police for the recent execrable murder perpetrated on their colleagues at Budumburam. The cruelty unleashed on these policemen continues to baffle Ghanaians, and has generated a storm of varied opinions and calls to arm officers of the MTTD on duty.  

Definitely the horrible action by the suspect Eric Duah and others was a frightening savagery that keeps tormenting my mind anytime I see the horrifying story in the news portals. It comes as a shock to have this dreadful notion that such direful personalities are  living in our society.

Yes,  I think there could be a number of such criminals scattered all over with dangerous hidden weapons and the saddest part is that most of these weapons are exchanged by the police for cash. Yes, recently, some policemen were arrested for renting guns to armed robbers. 

By now we all are  aware that the cases of ‘land guards’ terrorising landowners with sophisticated weapons are no more a hidden secret, and in most cases when they are reported, nothing is done about it…It is as if the police have thrown a shield of protection around these dangerous characters and they deliberately ignore and forget their existence, yet these land guards control weapons in their domains.

An African proverb goes like this: “If you close your eyes to facts, you will learn through accidents”. 
I read some aspect of the stories in the dailies which suggests that this same guy Duah once killed somebody, but he was released by the police in a mysterious way after his arrest. I hope it is not factual otherwise our country is in a serious trouble of police aiding criminals.

Let’s reflect on the Takoradi kidnap case, which has hit the whole nation with pain just because someone who is paid to enforce the law chose to circumvent the law, to allow a main suspect to break cell.

I have always opined that the greatest criminal is not the crime perpetrator, but the one who chooses to let him go scot free…Let’s bear in mind that when criminals go unpunished, they come back confidently fortified to haunt us.

Policemen owe us and themselves a duty of protection to make our society  crime- free, because a criminal is no respector of persons  Criminals can strike at anybody, police or civilian, anytime.

As citizens, we are also supposed to respect the police and protect them with utmost care….if we kill or destroy the police mandated to protect us, who will save us in times of attack.

In the wake of the recent attacks and killing of policemen, it is time to reorganise, retool and restrategise and find better solution to modern policing to combat crime, with the protection of the cilivian placed at the centre of the whole planning. This calls for a well planned and strategic arrangements and not an ad hoc planning.

“Haste and hurry can only bear children with many regrets along the way,” a Senegalese proverb has it to say.

“There are no shortcuts to the top of the palm tree,” a Camerounian probably corroborates the Senegalese one.

I have heard from the Police Administration that all officers of the MTTD would be armed, but I cosider it to be a hasty move. My thinking is that if you check police shooting records, it reveals even trained police officers who handle guns have shot many stray bullets and caused some  accidental deaths to civilians and so giving arms to the MTTD police to stand openly at the roadside would be dangerous, especially knowing some have been reported to be cohorts of armed robbers.

If we really want to get rid of crimes of any sort, including armed robbery, land ‘guardism’, kidnapping, election violence, and contract killing, which are ill practices that are not in tune with our mores…but gradually becoming a registered practice…let’s adopt the Chinese system (no guns in the hands of the police or the civilians), not the American way (everyone is entitled to register a gun).

The solution to this menace is not to arm the MTTD;  rather consider the folloeing: Enforcement of strict security checks at our borders – our entry and exit points – which are avenues for smuggling in arms and we must have strict men with sophisticated devices and sniffing dogs to detect weapons, flammables and combustibles that may put people at risk. 

Night checkpoints and police patrols should use weapon detectors – I find it very abhorring when i see police barrier in the night, and when the police  stop your car, they just light your face to see who you are, and after that they signal you to move on.

Crime cannot be detected on one’s face because “A set of white teeth does not indicate a pure heart”, so goes an Anambra, (Nigerian) proverb. We need special devices, machines and sniffing dogs to check all cars, including long-distance buses, without fear or favour.

Investment in surveillance cameras. We need to heavily invest in security devices if we mean business in combating crimes. 

Empowering Neighbourhood Watchdog:
 We should also encourage neighborhood committees, and these must be resourced, empowered and organized to deal with many things in communities.

Encouraging informants and cooperators 
 The Americans have this catch word, “if you see something, say something”.

Crimes happen in communities, and criminals live in communities so we must encourage people to inform the police when they see something is not right and in some instances, reward system should be put in place and citizens who expose criminal activities and divulge information should be protected. 

Abolishment of manufacturing of guns and weapons:
 We must terminate and abolish the operations of gun manfacturers  immediately. Only government institutions must import or manufacture guns.
By the way, why do we still keep  camps if we are not in war times?