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Opinions Sun, 6 Oct 2019

A police cell in Teshie - Part 3

I honoured an invitation to the Teshie police station Thursday evening and arrived there in the company of a friend.

A police officer admitted that he had read some “favourable” police articles on this blog; our mission statement, “…..a moral and intellectual guide…….” was also praised with enthusiasm.

Then the discussions reached a crescendo.

Officer X offered that from now on, peer-reviewed articles from police officers and other security experts on “security, peace and development” should appear on this blog so that we shall together with the police raise the level of public discourse.

“But the flashing of torchlights into the eyes of passengers, remains unacceptable and must be stopped” I stated emphatically for “clarity and precision.”

This time the police agreed I had the right to state my conviction, but were worried that as a journalist I was encouraging the public to frustrate their work.

“We want you to write about some modules of policing for us to learn from, if you think what we are doing is wrong,” Officer X said.

Once again they complained about the contents of my written statement saying that I had not answered or addressed the charges, “obstructing the work of a police officer”, and “resisting arrest”.

Clearly, one cannot choose to think for himself at the Teshie Police station!

My accompanying friend then complained about how difficult it is to talk to the other ranks as compared to senior officers.

Officer X blamed this on us, the civilians who bloat up the “protocol admissions” list with unsuitable material.

A bombshell!

He also confessed that MTTD was the last place he wanted to work in when he was joining the Service, he complained, “But today, graduates are clamouring to join MTTD.”

Then he challenged writersghana.com to critique the “Transparency International survey” that ranks the police service as the most corrupt public institution in the country.

“If the police take ‘one cedi, one cedi’ per transaction, and Customs takes [500] cedis per transaction, who is more corrupt?”

The last place that we would expect to hear “whataboutery” is in a police station; and certainly not in Teshie – a bastion of Presbyterian discipline a la Teacher Oko who founded the Teshie Salem.

But here we are today – in ghana; in a zero sum game; a mad race to the bottom with our feet shod with greed and mediocrity.

All is lost.

Officer X then assured us of international best practice within the Service thus: “ Officers are being sent abroad all the time to train; FBI, Scotland Yard, Italy. It is the personnel who are behind.”

He showed us a police service App which should enable the Ghana police to key in every activity such as my written statement so that it will be available in real time to relevant levels of the police hierarchy who want to follow up on the case.

It is sad though that the police personnel remain non-compliant while not obstructing police work and being model citizens of whom we should all be proud of and attempt to emulate.

But woe is me, travelling home at night with my teenage children in a cab; willing to cooperate with the police but firmly refusing to be bullied or to offer or pay a bribe; an irrevocable personal decision.

Their official stance is my “obstructing police work” and “resisting arrest”.

What a country; NOTHING makes sense to anyone who bothers to think clearly.

“Underdevelopment has many facets,” my mentor shook his head once more and added, “Unbelievable; it’s IMPOSSIBLES.”

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Columnist: Isaac Ato Mensah