The Head of Education, Research and Training at the Ghana Police Motor Transport and Traffic Directorate (MTTD), Superintendent Alexander Obeng says to a very large extent it is very difficult to decouple arrests from police searches.
According to him, the police do not have an etched-in-stone formula when carrying out searches on the roads and highways thus they are left to use their own discretion on how they may carry out such an exercise when sent out on duty.
Speaking on JoyNews’ ‘The Law’ show Sunday, the Police Superintendent said, “It’s very critical, hence why I believe the framers or so allow the police to have that power of searching to the extent of breaking in and breaking out because policing is not necessarily a hardcore science; it’s a social science and sometimes you act on your feet.
“And I think the framers thought of it and gave such a power to a body of men. However, we exercise this within great discretion and that is why initially I talked of unnecessary restraints and all that comes in. Every police officer everywhere needs to exercise great discretion on their feet to solve such problems.”
He stated that as a result of the discretionary powers of the police, it was almost impossible to avoid police officers making arrests during their searches.
He explained that the police do not set out to incriminate people they stop on the road, they, however, search for articles that one may use to cause injury to one’s self or another person.
“And I believe that in searching, in most cases the search is linked with arrests and the essence of it goes beyond incriminating the one that you’re searching.
“There are instances that the search may be used to retrieve an article that the one being searched may use same article to injure him/herself or cause collateral injury to others around.
“There are also instances that it helps us to gather evidence in order to support our suspicion of the offence that the person was initially suspected to have been about to commit. So we must also appreciate police in that context,” he said.
His comments were in relation to the subjection of Accra-based Citi FM’s Umaru Sanda to what has been described as an unlawful search by four police officers in Accra.