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General News Mon, 2 Sep 2019

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Arming Police on traffic duty will worsen police-citizen relations – Bureau of Public Safety

The Bureau of Public Safety, a non-profit organisation interested in matters of public health, safety and environment, has called on the Police Council to immediately halt the implementation of a directive by the interior minister that police officers on traffic duty should be armed.

The Bureau of Public Safety says it will worsen the already bad relationship between the public and the police.

According to a press release by the organization sighted by MyNewsGh.com, “providing arms and ammunition to all MTTD (Motor Traffic and Transport Department) personnel without first equipping them with the requisite soft skills and also educating or informing citizens about police expectations and the potential repercussions that may accrue from ignoring them will only aggravate an already conflictive interaction between police and citizens.”

It further argues that before arming MTTD personnel, some conditions must be met otherwise arming them could pose a danger for the public.

“The Bureau, thus, contends that arming all members of the Ghana Police or MTTD personnel may be the needful thing to do; but doing so 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 the police and the citizens,” the statement adds.

The directive by the Interior Minister for the Inspector General of Police to immediately arm MTTD personnel came as a result of the gruesome murder of several police personnel in recent times.

Full Statement below:

INTERIOR MINISTER AND IGP MUST BE CALLED TO ORDER

The Bureau of Public Safety is calling on the Police Council, chaired by the Vice President of the Republic, and the Parliamentary Select Committee on Defense and Interior to immediately intervene and halt an announced adhoc measure by the Interior Minister and the IGP, to immediately arm all personnel of the Motor Traffic and Transport Department (MTTD) of the Ghana Police Service, until such time that demands (1-3) as stated below are met.

The Bureau appreciates the need to take immediate, definite and bold steps to ensure the safety of Police personnel in the wake of recent deaths of officers in the line of duty. However, providing arms and ammunition to all MTTD personnel without first equipping them with the requisite soft skills and also educating or informing citizens about police expectations and the potential repercussions that may accrue from ignoring them will only aggravate an already conflictive interaction between police and citizens. The Bureau therefore calls for a holistic intervention to prevent further police-citizen encounters from deteriorating into conflictive interactions.

Precedent to the immediate arming of MTTD personnel, the Bureau demands that the Police Administration institutes the following:

1. Develop and strictly apply Standard Operating Procedures for all Police personnel applying themselves in various circumstances requiring/involving citizen engagements

2. Train and retrain police personnel to develop and apply interpersonal skills, de-escalating skills, among other soft skills which are equally crucial to preventing or reducing escalated conflicts that may lead to injuries and loss of lives.

3. Inform and educate citizens about police expectations and the likely repercussions that may accrue from ignoring them to help reduce incidence of police-civilian escalated conflicts.

4. All Police personnel, not only MTTD personnel should be equipped with basic policing equipment such as radio, bullet proof vest, a less lethal tool, and a lethal tool (pistol).

The Bureau, thus contends that arming all members of the Ghana Police Service or MTTD personnel may be the needful thing to do; but doing so 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.

We, therefore, urge the Interior Minister, Mr. Ambrose Dery and the Acting Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mr James Oppong Boanuh to hasten slowly in their quest to authorize and arm personnel of the MTTD.

The Bureau of Public Safety, however, takes the opportunity to extend our deepest condolences to the families of the two deceased officers Sgt. Micheal Dzamesi, and Lance Corporal Awal Mohammed who met their untimely deaths while working to protect citizens and maintain the peace.

Nana Yaw Akwada (Exec. Director)

Source: My News GH

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