Ghana police and the ordinary citizen
ALMOST EVERYDAY, it's become the norm to hear of individual members of our Police Service being corrupt officers. And as much as I don't condone their behaviour, I think it's pretty obvious why this is happening.
From unhealthy conditions at work to low pay to unhygienic living conditions, our Policemen and women are suffering from it.
And as a result of this, it's the average Ghanaian who suffers at the hands of the police. True!
POLIC E BARRIERS
The money the Police do not make in salaries, they take in the form of bribes from citizens. For example, those Police barriers erected at night to make us safe have turned into one of the biggest places for policemen and women to make money. These days, people don't worry about carrying a driver's license or updating their car insurance because they know it will be cheaper to pay off a Policeman (although I will continue using Policeman, I'm also referring to Policewomen as well).
Another thing that has happened as a result of poor remunerations etc is that most people who enter the police force tend to be illiterates. Or at least that's the way it looks to me. The average Policeman does not know how to speak English! - Our national language. Try letting a Policeman take your statement and you will end up so frustrated because they seem very slow and incompetent. It's a shame to have to say it, but our Policemen do not appear smart or sharp and instead of invoking respect are actually targets of scorn and mockery. Can you believe I recently attended a wedding where Policemen on duty, in uniform were getting drunk? On asking them if that was decent behaviour, you should have seen the insults rained on me. Now tell me, how can I possible respect these Officers?
DRUNK POLICE OFFICERS
No doubt a lot of the policeman's problems lead to him also being frustrated and like I said, it's the average citizen who suffers as a result of this. For example, try reporting a sensitive crime such as rape and the Police Officer has no compassion. I recently took a young rape victim to the Airport police to make an official report and have her rapist arrested. To say I was disgusted by the treatment meted to us is an understatement. First of all, a drunken officer (his red eyes and breath told me this) accused this young woman of lying because she wanted chop money. I went ballistic on him. I demanded his name so I could not report him to his superiors but also use his name in this piece, but he refused to give it to me. When I asked the other Officers they just asked me to 'be patient madam.' What nonsense. Reporting rape is not an easy thing and to have drunk Police Officers insult you is just plain nasty and unprofessional.
But then the Ghana Police Service are not really professionals are they? I wonder what they teach them in that Police Training School? And I wonder why some people choose to go into this profession because from the way I see things; it's not to service society.
Now, I'm not a politician or policy maker. I'm just an ordinary Ghanaian woman who would like to make a few suggestions on how the Police can be better trained and equipped to truly do their job, that is, to serve the public.
First of all, all the police stations need to be modernized. I'm talking about the actual physical buildings as well as the provision of modern equipment such as computers and decent desks with chairs! Right now, our police stations look so disgusting and rundown, how can we expect our police officers to have any pride or joy in their work when day in day out, they have to be in such ugly conditions? Where are the beautiful canteens for our officers on duty? The water or tea / coffee machines? All these little incentives that keep you going? Where are the cars that Officers need to make their work that much easier? Maybe the Government should think of giving their 200 Golden Jubilee Luxury Cars to 200 Police stations across the country (assuming the cars are still available!)
With regards to the Police Officers themselves, they need to be properly trained in first of all English. Look I'm one of those people who is very disappointed we didn't go the East African way at 'Independence' by adopting one of our many languages as our official language. But at the end of the day, whether we like it or not, English is our official language and for our Police Service not be able to speak it fluently is disgusting. I don't know how recruits are chosen to enter the police training school, but I believe we should look for the crème de la crème when it comes to intelligence and common sense. Because right now, I believe even a 5 year old can outsmart any of our Policemen. Our Police have to be properly trained to serve the interest of the general public because right now, I don't see them performing their civic duties at all.
How about the way they look? So messy and unkempt. And as for those with the constant red eyesum.
In terms of their accommodation, it's a real disgrace that we couldn't even spend some of the $20 million plus on renovating / building proper accommodation for our officers. I'm sure we've all driven past the flagstaff area and seen the police flats. That place, like many other police accommodation, is not fit for human habitation.
Like I said, I'm not a policy maker, just a member of society who wants to see things done properly. For as long as the police force has little, they will always be frustrated and it will always be the ordinary citizen who suffers from this. When the police have no vehicle to go to a crime scene, who suffers? It's the ordinary citizen. As well as being a victim of crime, the ordinary citizen also ends up losing so much money and time because the police simply have no interest in helping unless you can grease their palms. This should not be the case.
Right now, the Ghana Police Service is failing us. I agree it's not all their fault. But for as long as we, the ordinary citizen feel our Policemen and women are ineffective, vigilante groups will always take action.
But hey, these are just the reflections of an ordinary Ghanaian woman.