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25.04.2006 Editorial

Sorrow, tears and blood: Becoming police trade mark?

By Ghanaian Chronicle

Last Friday, April 21, 2006, witnessed yet another sad day in the history of the nation, as some panic-stricken police personnel left behind sorrow, tears, and blood, which is becoming one of the hall marks of the 'peace officers' in recent times, during a night operation at Dansoman, in Accra.

Anytime that a few irate police personnel have exposed their unprofessionalism, they have left many Ghanaians wondering whether their misguided behaviours are the result of inadequate or inappropriate training, or simply arising out of frustration due to poor conditions of service.

Unfortunately, the manner in which the Police Administration has handled incidents of violation of civilians' rights, including those that could be described as pure murder, has left many wondering if the Police is indeed there to protect the people and ensure peace.

A few years ago, a resident of Dansoman was gunned down by a policeman, with the excuse that the victim had pulled a cutlass on the policeman.

Again, sometime in June 2002, residents of Taifa woke up to a shocking spectacle: Five of their neighbours, who were undertaking neighbourhood watch committee duties, had been gunned down by a joint police-military patrol team.

Hours after the killings, the security agents had lied to the whole nation, describing the victims as armed robbers who had engaged them in a shoot-out! That was exposed as pure lies, and they decided to go mum on it.

Even though the May 9, Accra Sports Stadium disaster resulted from a combination of factors, the role of the police- throwing tear gas canisters into a crowd in an enclosed area when tear gas is meant to disperse crowds- raised very serious questions.

In all the incidents cited above, the public is not aware of any of them being brought to closure, to let the public know if the security officials involved were sanctioned, found to have misconducted themselves or they are still in the system and wielding weapons.

Beyond the public fan-fare about the setting up of a Professor Addae-Mensah-led committee to investigate the Taifa killings by the agents of state security, the public has been left in the dark.

It was not surprising to many observers that the culprits involved in last Friday's killings had described the victims as armed robbers. Even if that was the case, one did not need to be an expert to conclude that what took place was pure murder (in cold blood), considering that beyond firing into the Tico cab in which the victims were traveling, from the rear, the side of the vehicle was bullet-ridden, suggesting that the police even caught up with their victims.

There have been too many times that the police have given cause for worry, when invariably even all what they call warning shots seem to be directed at 'suspects'.

The public expects the police to provide it with safety and therefore incidents of barbarism on the part of uniformed police personnel raises serious questions regarding public safety.

The Chronicle believes that unless incidents of recklessness of security personnel are investigated by independent bodies, giving the appropriate recommendations for upgrading the training and also boosting the morale of security personnel, we would continue to breed walking time-bombs, armed with the taxpayers' money.

Unless this situation is arrested, we shall continue to have a 'police service' that still sees itself as a 'police force' leaving sorrow, tears, and blood as their regular trade mark.

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