- The decision by the Interior Minister is one that has come under severe scrutiny and criticism from security experts and a cross section of the public
Written By Nana Sifa Twum - The Interior Minister, Ambrose Dery has directed the hierarchy of the Ghana Police Service to arm personnel of the Motor Traffic and Transport Department, MTTD of the service. The directive forms part of plans by the government to arm all police officers including MTTD personnel.
This according to him, will help in boosting confidence in the personnel and also ensure personnel safety. The Minister believes the measure will help police officers exercise the right to self-defence in fighting violent crimes. The directive by the Minister came on the heels of the gruesome killing of two MTTD officials at Gomoa Budumburam in the Central Region. Sergeant Michael Djamesi and Lance Corporal Mohammed Awal who were shot and killed in the line of duty.
The decision by the Interior Minister is one that has come under severe scrutiny and criticism from security experts and a cross section of the public. Diverse reasons have been assigned to the objection or the agreement to the Minister’s decision. The key argument, has been the urgent need for the government to retool the Ghana Police Service. There has already been some provision of bulletproof vests, helmets, body cameras among others. Arming the personnel of the MTTD is not considered as an appropriate measure to fight crime. It is believed that the decision appeared to be a panic reaction to the recent killings and therefore needs to be reconsidered.
With the directive, they will soon be carrying guns everywhere. The guns could be pistols or bigger weapons but that is not the core of the matter. It is rather the emotional, psychological effect that will have on the citizenry and the safe handling of the weapons.
By the use of the provided weapons, they may create either positive or negative image in the minds of the public. The guns may sometimes trigger chaotic scenes and pose danger to the citizenry and the personnel themselves. Some people believe that the public appear to be increasingly losing confidence, trust, and respect for the police and this has clearly contributed to the numerous incidences of instance justice. This obviously has also resulted in the attacks on the police these days. The killings of the two MTTD personnel at Budumburam were allegedly as a result of one of the men first slapping one of the suspects. In the case of another MTTD officer who was severely beaten by a driver and his mate in Kasoa last year, reports are that, the officer first assaulted the driver. These are no justifications for attacking and killing of the personnel. The nation already had enough of the shooting spree of the police against citizens.
We have not forgotten the shooting of the seven people at Manso in the Ashanti region. The police placed weapons beside the dead bodies and accused them of robbery at a press conference. Later, it was found out that they were not robbers. The police who did that went unpunished. It is really disheartening the number of police officers who have died in the line of duty. Statistics available indicate that 53 police personnel have been killed between 2013 and now. Cases included exchange of fire with armed robbers, motor accidents, stabbing, being run over by vehicles, and police crossfire. The facts remain that none of these was as a result of killing by criminals on the road to warrant this hasty decision. In fact, in three instances, their own colleagues were the ones who mistook them for armed robbers and mistakenly killed them. The killings of the police are highly condemnable but the solution to it is not to arm them. This may be rather dangerous as impulse reaction would be the order of the day. Such a decision and the full implementation of it must rather be based on scientific findings rather than panic reaction.
Many well-meaning Ghanaians appreciate that there is the urgent need for personnel of the Ghana Police Service including those within MTTD to be well armed. The caution however is that in its current state is a dangerous recipe for more aggravated conflicts and murders, especially on the civilian front. This will deteriorate an already deep-seated mistrust between police and citizens. Let us look for better alternatives to arming all personnel of the MTTD.
BY NANA SIFA TWUM, MEDIA AND COMMUNICATIONS CONSULTANT.
NEWS COMMENTARY ON THE DECISION TO ARM PERSONNEL OF THE MTTD OF THE GHANA POLICE.