Opinions Sat, 10 Mar 2012

947 Policemen Dismissed, Should We Jubilate Or Cry?

Veep made this shocking announcement in a mood that I can best describe as congratulatory. Congratulating the police service for dismissing this large number of personnel in the first three years of their rule. Vice President Mahama announced this during the annual Ghana Police service West African Security Service Activities (WASSA) 2011 end-of year party at the Police Headquarters in Accra.

He said; “Although we have bad nuts in every establishment, I want to commend the Police administration for cracking the whip on… which I believe will go a long way to deter other officers from indulging in acts against the code of conduct of the police service.”

I am still at lost what kind of offenses led to this mass dismissal. However justifiable the reasons, a part of me is still worried.

To become a fully trained Policeman it takes a period of not less than six months of vigorous academic, physical, drill, first aid and weapon training. Some recruits under training spend more than a year at training depots. They learn about laws, codes, ethics, psychology and many other security related things which makes them a bit different from an ordinary civilian. This has resulted in a common knowledge that ones a policeman, always a policeman.

Reversing them back to civilian life especially under duress has factors that makes them a threat to our society. More especially when the person dismissed feels innocent and yet judged guilty. It is worse when the victims of this dismissal pin points on some motives other than the excuses of misconduct as reasons for his firing.

I vividly remember that when the NPP came into office, they decentralized the recruitment process into the police and other force works. Which led to a Region by region enlistment in very short periods to enhance a uniform participation of all interested applicants from all the regions of Ghana. The first time I saw a police, immigration and custom men in uniform hailing from my own village was in those times. People who had completed SSS and had no hope of continuing took refuge in this program and have become bread winners of their entire families.

Force works including the police service had become more open to other tribes than it was for years past. It had become one of the easiest way to get yourself employed and becoming a contributor to the family purse than a dependant. I am imagining how those people are going to cope with the responsibilities which falls on you as soon as you become a worker and a force man for that matter in Ghana. I am seriously wondering how they are going to be re-integrated into the society which shuns your company as soon as you become a force man especially, policeman. I am wondering how many of them can put themselves together again and forge their way into other employment.

I am afraid of how many of them will end up drunkards. I am scared for how many will end up in armed gangs to re-enforce our already dreadful robbery teams. I am afraid for Ghana for how many of them will still have some uniforms on and conduct their own operations on vantage points of our roads where our drivers and passengers will be subjected to all kinds of humiliation and harassment.

It will be regrettable if this dismissals are as a results of the NDC's initial threat of sieving the police service for perceived bad nuts they allege the Kuffour administration recruited into the police service. And worst still if they are on similar allegations of insults like that of Kobby Acheampong. Because once some selected years of recruitments becomes the attention and target for the dismissals the whole thing will turn out to be a witch hunting instead of a genuine intention to put the service men on their tows. Again if that is seen to be the criteria those targeted becomes uncomfortable and the tendency of making mistakes because of the pressure is huge. In any case every enlisted group in Ghana and anywhere in the world cannot be void of bad nuts so blaming perceived bad nuts on the enlistment done by one administration is misplaced.

If this trend is not curtailed we are bound to seeing every new government at the back of selected groups in our forces and services to replicate what has just began. It is time that our politicians limit their influence on our force works to make way for neutrality and clear mindedness in this all important professional institutions.

I am convinced that most of the instructors who trained those recruits are still at our training depots to train any new ones to be recruited. It is some of these same instructors who enlisted those policemen dismissed into the service. Again I can't accept the accusation by the NDC that the Kuffour administration recruited criminals into the service. No matter how irresponsible a government, recruiting a criminal to take charge of the nation's security cannot be a priority. The life of every single Minister, Judge, The President himself and all other key figures of our society is partly in the hands of the policeman. They stand right behind these men with fully loaded guns in their hands. That allegation is very unfortunate and irresponsible.

We have a danger of some of these dismissed men claiming They were victimized based on this allegation which have long term bad implications. Because even if someone was dismissed for genuinely bad conduct he can sneak his way back into the service when a new government comes to power.

Finally and most importantly assuming at the average every single policeman is taking care of three people and close to a thousand of them have been dismissed, how many mouths have been deprived of their daily bread?

I say this again; I will wish that the service works are cut off from political influence. Because recent trends within the force works cannot help in our universal security interest. If we live in a nation where Military recruits already at training could be redrawn because they are thought of to be one party's boys, then our security services need a distance from politics. A clear solution should be found to keep professionalism in place in our forces to avoid arming people with knowledge and many other capabilities only to turn them against ourselves. Nine hundred and forty seven fully trained police men are in our society jobless, peeved and hopeless, should we rejoice or cry?

Reagan Adomah Koduah. London, Uk.

Columnist: Koduah, Reagan Adomah