I genuinely love the police. I love them for the simple reason that they commit in their profession to keep us and our properties safe.
While we stretch our tired bodies at the end of the day, they are on their feet making sure that we wake up to peace and order. And so for anybody who commits to working twenty four hours, seven days each week, rain or shine, and cannot lay down their tools in times of discontent, then, applause and love are in order.
That is why when governments see the worth of our police service and go to their aid to make their work a bit easier; I buy into it. They have been trained to have large hearts, to accommodate and make room for tolerance no matter the provocation. Though there are pockets of bad nuts who may bring them a bad name, generally, the police try to live at peace with civilians.
However, my love for the police stops at a point where they seem to have lost confidence in themselves in the critical area of community policing. The confidence which the job reposes in them seems to have been lost on the officers I encounter on daily basis at traffic intersections. Their presence even seems to invite unruly behaviours and practices. In some jurisdictions, the sight of a police officer commands utmost respect for law and order.
Love grows cold
Some of the actions and inactions of our police officers make my love grow cold for them. I have often wondered why, with all their powers under their sleeves, acts of indiscipline, lawlessness and impunities have choked us to the extent that recalcitrant keep having field days. Many times, these societal misfits end up inconveniencing all others while they put themselves at risk.
My love for the police goes sour each time I see street hawkers and commercial motorbike riders, popularly known as Okada. With all the powers they wield, the police under their watch allow these groups of people to ply their trade even though they have no legitimate right to be doing what they do.
One can take a look at some of the key roads in the city of Accra where the police watch on as street hawkers do brisk business in busy traffic leaving a trail of rubbish around despite efforts to keep the city clean. How can one love the police when in their own front yards, at the Airport police station, Nima police station and Accra Central police station for example, they have allowed active hawking on critical roads? How can one love the police when even individuals can prevent unauthorised parking and selling in front of their premises, be it residential or commercial? It beats understanding why the Airport police for example watch on daily for active hawking and begging close to our only international airport?
As for the Ring Road end close to the Nima police station, it is more than a market. Hawkers display by the road side, bags of detergents, and other stuff making it feel like their presence is endorsed by the police. The Kwame Nkrumah Avenue end in front of the Central police station is no different. So, who else can put fear in the impunities around us if not the police?
As if that is not enough, the nuisance of Okada riders is killing us. I have recently lost a relative who was knocked down by a hit-and-run Okada. In the midst of the chaos and misery they have brought on our roads even with police presence, it was regrettable to read in the 20th October, 2018 issue of the Daily Graphic a story where the Head of Research and Programmes of the Motor Traffic and Transport Department (MTTD) of the Police Service is reported to have admitted that Okada has gone beyond police control. Really?
What respite do we as civilian drivers and pedestrians being tortured by Okada riders have if they are beyond police control? Is commercial motorbike operation not illegal in this country? One would recall that in July 2012, our Parliament unanimously passed the Road Traffic Regulation, 2012 which bans the use of motorbikes for commercial purposes. Is that regulation not empowering enough for the police to wipe out Okada and its related impunities?
Ironically, the head of MTTD Research and Programmes gave himself away with statistics that point to Okada being a menace. He explained that out of every 100 road-related accidents, 30 of them were from motorbikes which often left victims with critical injuries. What more stances do they need to deal head on with Okada?
I love the police but really, my love is going sour watching them giving leeway to lawlessness and impunities in our communities. They take a lot of beauty away from our roads and pose critical danger to all.