By Sandra Wobil
Over the past few months, the media has covered several stories about assault in the Ghana Police Service. Such reports show that in recent times some individuals have taken the law into their own hands and are taking the lives of police officers anyhow.
Police officers on duty are now at danger, especially when trying to make arrests, as a result of what appears to be premeditated attacks against them. According to reports, some criminals ambush police officials to steal their firearms while some assist in the escape of suspects from police custody.
It was recently reported that two officers were killed when occupants of a vehicle they signaled to stop opened fire at them along the Kasoa Budumburam stretch.
In examining the circumstances of attacks on police officers, a committee identified managerial and organisational shortcomings that contributed to or, at the very least, failed to prevent deaths and injuries of many police victims.
The use of force is an inherent characteristic of the work of the police everywhere in the world. Consequently, both the deaths of police officers on duty and police brutality are well known occupational hazards.
It is therefore not surprising that the measures required to abate the threats on the lives of police officers are, in many instances, the same as those required to prevent police brutality. Certainly, both challenges require police leaders to improve the overall management of the use of force by police officers.
Causes of such development must be checked to ensure public confidence and safety because effects of these assaults are real threat to the nation’s security at large.
Measures to take
Therefore, police safety must be promoted; proper procedures, when responding to complaints, must be put in place; proper managerial supervision and accountability must be ensured; and effective use of equipment must be ensured.
Police leadership needs to urgently start focusing on improving the strategic management and internal accountability capacity that will support professional policing. Professional police officers will have the skills to avoid using force in their interactions with members of the public and will use it only when it becomes absolutely necessary. When force is used, it will be the minimum amount required and proportional to the task at hand.
They will have the necessary skills and confidence to handle the complexities they confront in their daily engagement with the public and while enforcing the law against dangerous criminals.
Communities will increasingly start to respect and support police officers because they will be seen to be public servants, which they truly are, who are well-trained and behave according to much higher standards than civilians.
Role of citizens
On the other hand, citizens must have confidence in the police and go to their rescue if they are in trouble.
Citizens must respect the police and leave every legal or illegal case in their hands, instead of taking the law into their own hands to take the lives of police officers.
Citizens must work hand in hand with the police officers to arrest any person(s) who is/are supposed to be arrested for a wrong doing.