In recent months, there has been growing public concern and anxiety over the spate of Police Officers killed in the line of duty in Ghana. So far this year, about six officers have been killed with the latest being the death of two Motor Transport and Traffic Department (MTTD) Officers near the Liberian refugees’ camp in Gomoa Buduburam in the Central Region.
Inasmuch I welcome the recent assurance given to Officers by the Acting Inspector General of Police, James Oppong-Boanuh, not to be deterred by the attacks on them and to discharge their duties of keeping the country safe, the police administration has consistently failed to address the fundamentals issues confronting the service hence, the rising casualty rate.
It goes without saying that, the nature of the work of Police Officers in arresting, investigating and giving evidence against suspected criminals, makes policing a high-risk venture. The constant likelihood of risk emanating from sources external to the Police is high and in many cases, largely beyond their control.
There are serious implications for increasing rate of Police Officers killed in the line of duty:
- Increasing Police casualties embolden criminals who become so audacious and impudent to the extent that they spare no moment matching the police boot to boot resulting in exchange of fierce gunfire in some instances. This reached a crescendo when about a year ago, a gang of armed bandits stormed the Kwabenya District Police Headquarters to free suspected armed robbers who were in custody resulting in the death of an Inspector.
- Police lose confidence in the eyes of the public. Many Ghanaians begin to ask how the police can protect them when the police cannot protect themselves. As a result, some person might take the laws into their own hands in a quest to protect themselves leading to an increase in mob injustice and in illegal firearm acquisitions.
- Police fearing for their lives leads to a loss in self-confidence hence, making them unable to efficiently perform their functions.
The Government of Ghana and the Police Administration would have to show commitment towards countering the threat against Officers and all Ghanaians in general by addressing these issues:
- Police Officers need protective gear whilst on duty. The 4000 ballistic vests procured by the police administration is not enough as the police numbers far exceed that.
- Police officers should be given in-service training to address risk factors and to ensure operational readiness especially at high-risk areas such as Kasoa and conflict-prone areas of Ghana.
- Need for intelligence-driven deployment and awareness of risk factors. This is also possible through the development of Standard Operating Procedures for responding to scenes and complaints and also by ensuring compliance through an effective Monitoring and Evaluation mechanism.
- Developments of a well-defined policy to enable all Police Officers at post carry side-arms even if they are on traffic duties. Let us be mindful of the fact that Constable Daniel Owusu was shot dead on the N1 Highway in broad daylight on 13th July, 2017 when he was on a routine patrol duty.
- Community policing should be enhanced to engender trust and restore confidence in the police. Community involvement through operational Community Police Forums and awareness campaigns should be encouraged. Responsible reporting by the Media is also key.
- There is the need for legal reforms to define murder of an on-duty police officer as a crime against the State to serve as a deterrent to potential criminals.
- It is worth noting that ensuring national security is a shared responsibility and not the exclusive preserve of the men and women in uniform. Overall, Ghanaians should see security as a shared responsibility and play their individual roles in safeguarding their communities against crime. Be alert, be vigilant, and report suspicious activities in your communities to the police. On this occasion, however, it is sad to say… WE HAVE FAILED THE POLICE.