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TALKING DRUM: Why Ghana Police no longer surprises me!

File: A recruitment screening exercise for police recruits

Whenever I see or hear the name ‘Ghana’ appearing in the name of an institution, it reminds me of a true story of a senior at the then Sunyani Secondary School [SUSEC].

This senior in question we were told was a class prefect. For the purpose of this piece, I will name him Jimmy. Most often when class was in session, after 12pm meant that he had closed from school. Surprised? Don’t be surprised yet.

Jimmy, the class prefect, marked his [class’] register at the dormitory. “Bismark Apati … by now he is not in class,” Jimmy would say of some notable students and marked them absent. For him, being in class in the morning and vanishing from class after 12pm meant you will be marked absent. Some of our seniors who confessed also skipping class, at times, to relax at the dormitory painted a clear picture of Jimmy’s wonders.

When school had closed and he [Jimmy] asked his classmates to authenticate his ‘present and absent’ list for the day, he was always right.

Jimmy’s prediction is not anything different from the one who predicts how poorly an institution with ‘Ghana’ attached to its name could perform at a particular given time. I must say there is nothing wrong with ‘Ghana’ but there is something wrong in the thinking of some people who work for Ghana-institutions. Here, it is only a handful of such institutions that will not yield to such predictions. The Ghana Police Service, for that matter, has often fallen flat to this test.

Somewhere in 2016 when I got to the Police Training School at Tesano in the Greater Accra region, a number of young men and women had lined up. They were being vetted and the exercise took place across the country. He who passed the officers’ test of measurement of height and documents-check among others would be admitted as recruits into the various police training schools.

I was there as a reporter and I observed with rapt attention. At the grounds, I spoke with three people who were lobbying to be given some grace period to go bring one or two of their documents which they had left at home including birth certificates. By the officers’ strict orders insisting the would-be recruits presented every single requested document, I praised the vetting process. The Ghana Police is getting things done right this time. There will be no issues.

Months after the 2016/2017 recruitment exercise, the Ghana Police Service issues a memo instructing that recruits who fell short of proper documentation be dismissed from the training schools. Indeed, this order has led to a number of the police recruits being dismissed.

Following this, many Ghanaians have expressed worry over the training these dismissed recruits have gained. The fear is that the aggrieved within the dismissed fellows could turn to ‘use’ their acquired skills against the society. This, the Director of Public Affairs of the Ghana Police Service Superintendent Cephas Arthur has told the media there is no need to worry.

“The dismissed trainees have not gotten to the level of handling guns and other weapons which could motivate them to take guns,” he was quoted by 3news.com adding that the training they have received will “be beneficial to the society because they have gone through certain form of police training.”

The police further argue that every Ghanaian should have had a sort of military training or so, again, there is no big deal about these dismissed recruits.

I would not want to go into the debate over the possible threats the dismissed recruits could pose to society. Some practicing security officers misbehave and they get dismissed. They also pose a threat to our society. Better put, it all boils down to the police being on their toes and have an eagle eye on those dismissed.

My worry, however, has to do with the Ghana Police Service inability to tell who had a complete set of academic qualifications during the recruitment exercise. Also, how come one person presented no certificate but was recruited?

The other time, it was a recruitment scam. Today the story is different but not encouraging either. Our police service has been serving the nation relentlessly. However, they widely open their gate for needless criticisms that go a long way to erode the public’s confidence reposed in them.

When the New Patriotic Party was announced winner of the 2016 election by the Electoral Commission, the police was slacked in arresting the hoodlums of the party for attacking innocent persons. Many say that is how it has been most often as when the National Democratic Congress assumed office in 2008, the story was the same.

When you sit in a trotro [public transport] and the police stops your bus all you hear the entire passengers onboard say is ‘give it to him and let’s go.’ Whereas some men and women within the Service are working very hard to redeem the image of their profession, many officers out there make predicting the police an easy task.

When you stand right in front of the Ghana Police Headquarters, in Accra, you can predict motor riders will jump red light and the police will look on and indeed this happens every blessed day. I am surprised what the security cameras mounted at the entrance of their edifice capture.

Instances of predicting the police, like Jimmy did in marking his class’ register, are many. You may add your own. What we must earnestly drum home is for the Inspector General of Police, David Asante Apeatu, to work with his eyes widely opened. He should be bold to bring to book whoever tarnishes the image of the Ghana Police Service.

Mr. IGP, I know you were not at post as of the recruitment exercise but was it the plan that the police will admit people with BECE, NVTI, NABTEX and City and Guilds certificates and be asked to go home later on?

By Solomon Mensah

The writer is a broadcast journalist with 3FM 92.7. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect 3FM’s editorial policy.

Email: nehusthan4@yahoo.com

Twitter: @Aniwaba

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