The ‘police is a friend’ is what is often said to the ordinary citizen. In July 2018 , Ghana’s Inspector General of Police, David Asante Apeatu, defined policing as “a shared responsibility” and that the Ghana Police Service (GPS) is an organisation constitutionally mandated to protect lives and property, prevent and detect crime and generally to ensure peace, safety and security in the country.”
This statement from the chief constable is witnessed in many countries but sad enough, the police service for the past years has shown gross contrast in the above attributes.
Instead of protecting the citizenry, the same persons involve themselves in ill-treating them.
The most disturbing effect of all these negative publicity of the police service is that the morale of a good number of dedicated officers— who are trying to do their best— is eroded beyond repair because the reputation of the service they represent is damaged.
At a stakeholders meeting with journalists held recently at the police headquarters, the IGP and his able commissioners assured the media of no more police brutalities on journalists.
Those present voiced out their concerns and after the meeting, journalists were assured that never again would they encounter any police brutalities in the country.
It is often said that every law enforcement agency has its ‘bad nuts’. The ‘bad nuts’ are those who normally create most of the bad publicity.
It happens everywhere, even in the developed countries.
Unfortunately, “the negative news is highlighted by the media more often than the accomplishments of the good news,” Mr Apeatu said while addressing the media at the police headquarters.
Sadly, few weeks after this wonderful speech, a video of an armed police officer brutalising a woman went viral, thus, attracting public outrage on social media.
The video shows the policeman identified as Frederick Amanor assaulting the victim, Patience Osafo, who had about three months-old baby in her arms at a banking hall.
The crime of this woman was that she had refused to leave the banking hall after being refused her own money saved in the bank.
The police with the mandate of protecting lives and property and ensuring safety of the customers of the said bank resorted to using his fist to assault this innocent woman who helplessly carried her three-months-old granddaughter in her arms.
Unlucky for his officer, a Good Samaritan was recording the whole incident which later went viral, thus, attracting the attention of the police administration.
Journalists who have been key partners in the activities of the police service have not been left out, as several reporters have received their share of the beatings in recent times.
The last one recorded is the assault of Ghana’s budding journalist, Latif Idris, with The Multimedia Group, who was brutally beaten to near death at the headquarters of the Ghana Police Service in March this year.
Unlike Latif Idris, his assault which occurred at the police headquarters was not captured by anybody, not even the closed circuit camera at the police headquarters.
His crime was for doing his job as a journalist by asking police officers a question at a time the officers had been deployed to maintain law and order by dispersing a supposedly rowdy crowd.
Surprisingly, the approaches for maintaining law and order on that day included the resort to physical violence against a harmless journalist.
Statistics from the Media Foundation For West Africa (MFWA) revealed a tall list of incidents of attacks involving a total of 16 other journalists in Ghana in the last 15 months.
Some were attacked by politicians, demonstrators, otherwise referred to as civilians, the police and others.
Sadly, the police have been the leading perpetrators of attacks against journalists, according to the statistics.
Below are eleven other incidents of attacks on journalists from January 2017 to March 2018:
On February 27, 2017, a Kotoko Express photojournalist, Gideon Botchway, was attacked.
He was subjected to physical abuse by a fan and a steward of Ashgold Football Club in Obuasi during a match between Ashgold and Asante Kotoko.
In less than a fortnight, March 5, 2017, another photojournalist, Senyuidzorm Adadevor, was attacked and expelled from the Accra Sports Stadium by officials of Accra Great Olympics during the Accra Great Olympics-WAFA football match.
On the day Ghana celebrated her 60th independence, March 6, 2017, another journalist fell victim to physical attack. This time it was soldiers who attacked a freelance journalist, Kendrick Ofei, while on duty at the Independence Square in Accra.
Just when the media landscape had enjoyed a brutality-free month, a journalist was physically attacked and his equipment seized.
On June 27, 2017, Isaac Nsiah Foster with Otec FM in Kumasi was attacked by workers at a construction site where he had gone to investigate complaints by local residents about the siting of a project meant for a fuel station
A few days later, a TV3 crew got their fair share of the assault when on July 2, 2017, Myepaul Sowah, Richmond Tanoh and Peter Asare were assaulted by some suspected landguards while investigating encroachment on a piece of public land at Teshie, Accra.
As if to celebrate its one-month anniversary, on July 3, 2017, a photojournalist was assaulted and his camera destroyed. Again, it was supporters of the Asante Kotoko Football Club who attacked a photojournalist with Hearts News, a bi-weekly published by Accra Hearts of Oak Football Club, during a ceremonial match between the two clubs.
The hooligans also seized the camera of the victim, Daniel Anane Boakye-Yiadom, and destroyed it.
On October 10, 2017, the Omanhene of the Wassa Akropong, Tetre Akuamoah Sekyim II, forced Larry Saint, a journalist with Rivers FM, to kneel in the sun for hours for criticising him on WhatsApp.
Eight days later, a group of irate youth calling themselves Kumasi Youth Association (KuYA) attacked the regional office of the DAILY GUIDE in Kumasi over publications carried by the newspaper on the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II.
After a month-long break of attacks on journalists, thugs stormed the studio of Radio Justice, based in Tamale, and assaulted the presenter of a programme and his three panelists, disrupting the live broadcast in the process.
The attackers injured the presenter, Yunus Yiripha, and vandalised the console, microphones, computers and furniture.
A few days to Christmas, security guards stationed at the New Patriotic Party (NPP) office physically assaulted four journalists from TV3, Citi FM and Ghanaweb.com. They were brutalised by the security guards for covering a protest at the premises of the party headquarters.
Again on February 23, 2018, Christopher Kevin Asima, a presenter of A1 Radio in Bolgatanga, was attacked by police while he was covering a fire outbreak incident.
Sadly from all the incidents listed above and several others, no perpetrators have been punished. At best, the cases died with mere assurances of investigations by the police.
Factors That Result To The Beatings
It has emerged that there are so many contributing factors which help to explain the police’s unpleasant image.
The main ones are poor recruiting practices and lack of professional will by the leadership of the Ghana Police Service (GPS) to resist attempt by politicians to dilute the service with card-bearing party faithful (also known as foot-soldiers) who have been ‘forced’ into the service.
It is a clear fact that some politicians forced their party faithful down the throat of the Ghana Police Service (GPS) with undedicated and low-grade persons into a service with integrity.
It is sad that in most cases, these are the ones who cause most damage to the reputation of the police.
Undoubtedly, the Ghana Police Service (GPS) seems to attract too many bad recruits because of poor background checks procedure, poor salary structure and back-door recruiting practices and poor general conditions of service.
Even though the leadership of the service is doing all it can to regain the image of the service by introducing several interventions, they are still so subservient to politicians, in that the district and regional commanders are always at the receiving end of politicians.
Officers cannot take bold decisions because the impression is created that any officer who is not liked by the immediate political head of the district, municipality or the region is tagged ‘a member of an opposition party’.
The late DCOP Angwubutoge Awuni of blessed memory, we must admit, was one of the bold senior police officers who held in check the politicians who attempted to interfere with the service without fear or favour, even though there are many other officers in the system.
What some members of the police administration forget is that they did not swear to serve politicians but the state of Ghana.
The role of PIPS
Individuals must be aware that the Ghana Police Service (GPS) has a department called the Police Intelligence & Professional Standards Bureau currently headed by COP Nathan Kofi Boakye.
This department is to act as a police complaints bureau for individuals who feel they have been wrongly treated by personnel of the police service.
There are only a few Ghanaians who are bold on reporting such officers at the unit.
The only thing an individual who is wrongfully mistreated or mishandled is to get the details of the said police officer and report the matter to the unit for redress.
By Linda Tenyah-AyetteyRead Full Story