The presidential candidate for the New Patriotic Party, Nana Akufo-Addo recently emphasised that, if elected President of Ghana, national security would be his main priority. This is indeed a laudable vision. Under his watch, he would create a police service that is effective, accountable, transparent, and responsive to the needs of the Ghanaian citizenry through professionalism and integrity. His guiding police philosophy and focus would be: Policing with integrity and fairness in the pursuit of our common good.
No symbol better captures the state of our police force than the quality of its barracks. If you take a walk around any major police barracks anywhere in Ghana, you will immediately be struck by the run down buildings, paint peeling off them, many lacking in water and good sanitation, and generally always overcrowded. Into small 1 or 2 rooms flats is a family of a father and wife, and maybe 3-4 children. Those living conditions are deplorable and speak volumes about how well as a society and leaders, we understand what is needed to motivate those on whose shoulders such a great burden of responsibility is placed. Put differently, the quality of their lives is a leading indicator of the urgency that we need to transform the Ghanaian society.
Under a Nana Akufo-Addo Presidency, he will change Ghana¢s understanding and approach to the security of life. The change will come because, his administration in reforming the police service and the broad administration of justice will focus on making sure we treat police officers as human beings. He firmly believes that, no reform of the police service, no matter how cleverly designed can ignore the fact that, these officers have families and no reform can also ignore the fact that, these officers when not adequately remunerated in terms of salaries and allowances will seek out ways to survive. No reform can ignore the fact that, police officers are people who want a career in which they will be professionally and personally fulfilled.
Therefore, his approach to reform will be different from that of any other presidential candidate because, he will place the men and women of the police service at the heart of the reform. He is of the opinion that, the root cause of our law and order problem is that, we have forgotten that it is people who will implement our commitment to law and order. Without a focus on who is enforcing the law and the quality of life and service for those enforcers, it is clear that we will not get the results we desire. As president, he will address the systematic root causes of poor law enforcement. His campaign has identified a series of integrated solutions that will together create leading edge results for Ghanaians. These results will fulfil what he has promised to Ghanaians: security of life, property, support of victims of crimes and disorder, observing and protection of citizens¢ human rights, and prompt response to call for assistance by citizens in distress.
The neglect symbolized by the run down barracks will be addressed by treating police officers as members of our community. The proposed police reforms will include among other things, a decentralised police service including multi-tier policing (National, Regional and District) and direct accountability will be to the citizens they directly serve. Under a Nana Akufo-Addo presidency, he will create a special national guaranteed mortgage scheme that on the fifth anniversary of joining the police service, an officer will be qualified to use to purchase a home in his or her community. In addition to universal health insurance and education program for all Ghanaians, he will change the pressures facing our officers at home, so they can focus on being the best officers they can be.
Nana Akufo-Addo will change how police officers work by giving them more resources than they have had in the history of law enforcement in Ghana. There will be a significant increase in the number of and quality of men in uniform. He will double the size of the police service from over 22,000 to over 50,000 by 2012 which will reduce the current police to citizen ratio from 1:880 to 1:440. Pre 2001, the police to citizen ratio stood at 1:1466.
Under his watch, police officers will be motivated to take more effective action in areas he believes are critical to crime prevention. He will help the police service develop new capabilities including better forensic laboratories, a national crime database, a new fleet of patrol vehicles including motor bikes and bicycles, new patrol strategies, and new conditions of service. He will ensure that, the police service establishes a highly visible police presence in the community to deter crime. He will also create new rewards and incentives to bolster the best officers who choose to make the police service a long term career. The police service will be equipped to be mobile. There will be targeted highway patrols using police squad cars and motorbikes supported by helicopters. The helicopters will also be able to provide emergency medical evacuation in addition to serving as mobile command centres.
Nana Akufo-Addo will review the implementation of the current compensation program for police officers. Also, police and law enforcement officers will see an increase in their compensation in addition to overall condition of service. In addition, there will be life insurance packages for all officers and a clear and transparent compensation packages for all officers and their families who either die or are injured in the line of duty. Also, all police officers will be first aid trained. There will also be an expansion of police training. Existing police academies and training colleges will be retooled to become more effective and support the new vision of the police service. Institutions and crime units such as the Serious Fraud Office, CID and the Commercial Crime Unit will continue to be strengthened both from a statutory and resources perspective to aggressively fight White Collar Crime. The Police Council will be enhanced by reviewing its authority and capacity to effectively provide credible oversight of the Ghana Police Service.
Nana Akufo-Addo firmly believes that, effective crime prevention and control can only be achieved through intelligence-led policing. He will therefore strengthen the intelligence and investigate capacity of the police service through training of officers, provision of intelligence and investigation equipment and tools, improved criminal record data base, partnership with the public in ensuring that the opportunity for crime is not created, efficient deployment of officers and resources and reorganizing and strengthening the research, planning and statistics department of the police service to ensure that, reliable crime statistics are produced and disseminated which will ensure that, adequate and reliable information for intelligence, planning and operations are available to the service.
On combating violent and economic crimes, a Nana Akufo-Addo presidency will draw up a comprehensive and effective control of illegal firearms, partnership with the public to enhance community based information gathering on crimes and criminals, effective presence and patrol of borders to ensure that arms smuggling are controlled, effective collaboration with law enforcement agencies in neighbouring countries to control trans-border crimes, all patrol units to be public friendly and thus able to secure public support, trust, and assistance in crime fighting.
On deepening the concept of community policing and police and public partnership, there will be a review of the curriculum for police training at entry level and other levels to include relevant topics on human rights, Ghanaian history and culture, police and public relations, economic and political development and conditions in Ghanaso that police officers can better understand the people and context in which they work, create, maintain and strengthen avenues such as sports and interactive sessions in the community for positive interactions between the police and various groups in the society such as transport workers union, students, religious and community leaders, youth, private enterprises, market and trade associations etc in order to build trust and implement crime prevention and control measures that reflect the concerns of the citizenry and improve police service delivery that is responsive to crime incidents and distress calls, patrolling, enforcement of rule of law and respect for human rights especially relating to arrest, detention and interrogation.
On corruption and indiscipline within the police service, a Nana Akufo-Addo presidency will ensure that, police officers are properly trained in handling fire arms, crowd control, highway patrol, traffic control etc, review and strengthen internal discipline mechanisms, collaborate with CHRAJ, mass media and civil society to promote enlightenment on the role of police in society and the duties of the citizenry towards the police, collaborate with the Police Council to enforce discipline, review police training curriculum to include topics on democratic policing, community policing, national and international instruments on conducts of law enforcement officers and other related offences so that officers are well acquainted with the demands of efficient and accountable policing.
The public relations department of the Ghana Police Service will be re-oriented to focus on improving public perception and image of the service. Programmes such as public enlightenment in schools, colleges and tertiary institutions about the functions of the police service and the civic responsibilities of students will be pursued, involving civil society, the academia, CHRAJ, the Ghana Bar Association, and the Ghana Journalist Association on ways to improve police image and promoting good practices in the police service and disseminate them while discarding outdated and outmoded attitudes.
By the end of a Nana Akufo-Addo led reform of the Ghana Police Service, this fine and noble institution of ours will be unrecognizable from today and for the better.