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16.02.2021 Editorial

Police: Psychiatric Emergency

Police: Psychiatric Emergency
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Another cop has died. Cause of death: Alleged suicide, a blood-smeared pistol in his room evidencing this suspicion.

Contents of suicide note: Unknown.

Even as the post mortem report is awaited, it would appear beyond any shred of doubt that, he too, like others before him, committed suicide.

The Ghana Police Service has been afflicted by a subtle mental health emergency which demands the immediate intervention of psychotherapists, psychologists and even psychiatrists working in tandem to ameliorate the anomaly.

It is curious that even the suicide toll is mounting among police officers; a situation which until the IGP's reference to it recently hardly made it to the public space.

We at the DAILY GUIDE observed the growing incidence of depression and even psychosis among personnel when a police officer attached to the Rapid Deployment Force (RDF) of the Tema Regional Police Command in 2016 gunned down his two children and mother-in-law before committing suicide with an AK47 assault rifle.

Constable Wilfred Amuzu booked for the rifle for patrol duties when he diverted to his semi-detached residence at Kufuor Estate located between the Devtraco Estate in Community 25, Tema, and the Affordable Housing near Kpone, where the incident occurred. It was clear that this man was suffering from a psychiatric condition. Had his commander been observant, a firearm-bearing embargo would have been slapped upon him, as was patrol duties until he had undergone a psychiatric examination and treatment.

At the time the IGP Mr. James Oppong-Boanuh announced an ongoing discussion between the Police Administration and the Psychology Association of Ghana about how to tackle the stress and depression levels among personnel and their immediate families, the latest suicide by a superior police officer had not occurred.

If the previous tally of police suicides in recent times had the management of the police and personnel squirming, the effects of the latest which occurred last Sunday piled up their emotional stress and apprehension.

We cannot ignore the seriousness of stress management among law enforcement personnel because they are sometimes armed. When they suffer a cognitive crisis, armed cops could turn their arms on their colleagues or even family as it happened in Tema.

The suicide note from the latest superior officer to kill himself which for ethical purposes cannot be put out in the public domain should come in handy for psychologists and psychiatrists who may be interested in this worrying trend of police suicides.

In one of our editorials as far back as 2016 when the Tema shooting occurred, we called on the Police Administration to have commanders take interest in the demeanour and welfare of personnel.

Other Ranks (ORs) or Non-Commissioned Officers especially do not have easy access to their superior officers when they are burdened with issues such as transfers or promotions among others.

Such challenges are not restricted to the ORs; superior officers and commanders too have issues which require tackling at the headquarters. When there is no vent for these cognitive challenges, matters get to a head leading to suicides as being recorded of late.

Unlike other ailments like malaria which manifests easily, mental ill-health can sometimes be hardly noticeable.

Let the IGP and the Police Administration walk the talk about engaging psychologists and psychiatrists to deal effectively with the rising number of suicides in the law enforcement agency.

---Daily Guide