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21.02.2007 Letter

We Owe Our Police

James Russell Lowell, an American poet and author, is noted to have emphasised that “all the beautiful sentiments in the world weigh less than a single lovely action”.

We believe in this statement and that is why we are saying that as a people and a country, we have not treated our police personnel properly. We owe them more than the starvation wages we pay them.

In the words of Justice Sam Badoo, Chairman of the Police Council and gentleman to the core, “The conditions under which the police work are scandalous.”

A harsh word from such a gem. But that is exactly what it is if, indeed, a police constable lives on a salary of ¢9 million annually, which works up to ¢750,000 monthly.

Yet they are tasked with the responsibility of maintaining law and order and promoting the safety and security of citizens.

No wonder the unscrupulous among them place their personal welfare and interest above those of their duties.

There is no doubt that in recent times considerable attention has been devoted to personnel of the Ghana Police Service in terms of vehicles and other tools necessary for their efficient functioning.

Some attention has equally gone into the provision of decent barracks to accommodate police personnel.

However, these have to be complemented with an appreciable financial remuneration to enable police personnel to assert their pride and dignity.

As things stand now, a police officer who is tempted with a bribe of ¢1 million will experience no dissonance when he compares that to his monthly salary of ¢750,000, subject to all statutory deductions.

Many a time, people have wondered why some police personnel take as low as ¢10,000 or ¢20,000 and turn a blind eye to crime.

But the reality is that if the daily wage of the police officer is less than ¢30,000, then any amount earned outside the pay packet is beneficial.

Even in this, we have to admit that it is not every police officer who would have the opportunity. Also, there are many others who would not want to exploit such a situation, mindful of the fact that a good name is better than riches.

Having known the kind of stress and depression that our police personnel have to endure and the fact that they cannot embark on an industrial action to press home their demand for improved conditions of service, all well-meaning Ghanaians should join hands and lobby for better conditions for our police personnel.

We may express our sympathies in diverse ways but the most effective means to show that we care is to demand better remuneration.

The government must act now to demonstrate our commitment to an effective and efficient Police Service.

It is equally our wish that the police would be properly and adequately equipped and resourced to deal firmly with the rising crime wave and especially to deal ruthlessly with armed robbers who are bent on killing their innocent victims.

And since we expect our police personnel to approach their jobs with a human face and respect the fundamental rights of the people, they must be taken care of properly.

For, as it is said, a hungry man is an angry man. We have to ensure that police personnel are not hungry.

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