Opinions Sat, 9 Mar 2013

Indecent and intemperate attitudes – of some military/police personnel

“Journalists assaulted by security men at Indece parade”.

“Two journalists accredited to cover the country's 56th Independence Anniversary Parade in Accra Wednesday were manhandled by some security personnel.

A Ghanaian Times photographer, Vincent Dzatse received slaps from a security man. Meanwhile a Daily Graphic photographer, Nii Martey Botwe also had his penis subjected to electric shock because he attempted to take photographs of President John Mahama who was exchanging pleasantries with chiefs and leaders of political parties at the parade ground……….”. Ghanaweb – Source Daily Graphic

After reading the above article, I was left with a sense of worry, confused and puzzled, why some of us who swore to “Protect and Serve” are quickly turning out to be organizations that are dreaded and feared. The reports we take notice of, no more than scratch the surface of a widening problem, as there are only a few cases when the victim was lucky enough to have someone covertly videoing or taping the event(s).

Those who aren’t so lucky finds themselves at the military/police Unit are beaten to a pulp at times. However, there are always a number of these military/police personnel who claim it was in self-defense, the indecipherable “Wall of Silence” that pervades deeply into almost every military/police Unit in the country.

In many of these instances of military/police viciousness it never make it into the news; however with the amount that does makes headlines, is an indication of a deeper primary problem that appears to be emerging in many of our military/police administrative areas.

Just search through various electronic/print media outlets, educate yourself, and you will see the run through in brutality that is spreading across our nation.

At times I become lost in my bewilderment, asking myself what had gone wrong with these institutions. What had become of my former colleagues in the military especially? Is it a matter of complexities bordering on phobia or we’re being schizophrenic?

I want to believe that the loss of effective NCO-ship and its accompanying moral and ethics is accountable for the darkness.

What has become of our dear country? A number of people believe it is the emergence of a Police State, and I have no statistics or proof of evidence that expressly comes to that supposition.

I can’t see in your mind's eye, a mass instruction to all military/police personnel to treat people in their own way than they have in the past. I am of the opinion that if such had been communicated, there would likely be a leak from one of the many military/police personnel in spite of everything, to retain their moral compass.

Some of these brutalities it is attributable to local commanders. I suspect that the infiltration of the self-seeking politicians using, both military and police institutions for their parochial interest is a factor we must not overlook. With assurance that they have their support, their appearance and demeanor may change.

There is also a human factor to be considered, and in places like where soldiers were attacked in a mob action or where police officers have been slain, tempers seem to flare for a while. Nevertheless, to allow their personal feelings to have some bearing on them in their official capacity is unethical and at times even criminal.

Both Officers of the peace, knew the risks when we enlisted for the job and just as in the military, causalities do happen, and when they do, must be thought about as a hazard of the job. We must not be insensible to the fact, no one is happy when any of our colleague maimed or is slain in the line of duty is a welcome news. It is abhorrent, but to punish a populace that shares your sentiments is counter-productive and could lead to more discontentments. In high-risk areas, it is possible that people will make a start to look upon an encounter with the military/police as a life and death situation, a situation that we cannot allow to take place.

Added to these observable facts, the economy also affects military/police personnel. And the economic hardships many of them encounter may transfer down to affect their job performance.

I am not making excuses for both the military and police, but do realize that our economy is affecting everyone, even law enforcement, the military, and now some of the wealthy are beginning to complain. However, like the instances of assault from the mob on the soldiers and slain officers, our law enforcement must not take their problems to work. If they cannot perform without being able to break free from their real-life worries from the job, in that case, it becomes obvious they must ask for release or be forced to retire from their respective institutions.

In order for military/police institutions that have bad reputations to recover their public images, it is a must that the military and police “police” themselves. Colleague officers know when a colleague is under severe stress and are able to see the unnecessary violence and aggressive behavior long before it is public knowledge – which is the best possible time, if not sooner, to speak to the problem.

Society depends on the military and police Units throughout our nation to maintain order, be in position to destabilize criminals and prosecute crime. They are by and large our virtual defense against lawlessness getting a grip on our country.

However, the brutalities incidents which are becoming public knowledge, point to a general melt-down in the job performance of both the military and police administrative areas across the country – and enough is enough, as it has to stop.

If the government is attempting to throw-off the “Police State” image that is developing, then it must give support to our military and local police Units to re-implement their traditional role. To do the opposite is to invite violence as an angry public responds to senseless acts of violence perpetrated upon them by those who are charged to “Protect and Serve” the public.

I personally know some people that call the police or report a case to the police as a last resort, sometimes after the situation has escalated itself because of a lack of police participation. Some of these people speak of worry about getting beaten, charged with crimes they did not commit, and generally, being treated as if they were the “bad guys” who the individual had to report to the police. I find it terribly upsetting when many in the public are unwilling to call the police or accuse the military of “brutalities” – a situation which is magnified ten-fold in the larger metropolitan areas.

Military and Police personnel must learn from history. I entreat you to see for yourselves, learn and reason through instructions and Orders which are enveloped in controversies. The people aren’t the enemy. Attacking a journalist performing her or his duties and citizens expressing their “rights” must not attract such indecent and intemperate attitude or response, no matter the circumstance.

Many enlisted fails to see through bad instructions and orders from superiors, are unethical.

Ask yourself how much I make to sacrifice my life for an unworthy cause. If you take the time to learn from history, we might be able to steer clear of the destruction to your career.

This admonition is to remind both Soldiers and Police of the incident associated with Mobilla saga. Never trust the Politician or those Senior Officers. My caution to you is to be wary of them. Always try to keep away from indecent and intemperate attitude, as it set you up against the “law”.

It becomes difficult for the immediate family and you to cope with the unwarranted gossip normally associated with incident and also, you being mindful that, your interest to the Politician and Superior is transitory.

The article is written with you in mind, Military and Police. As a former colleague, a Command Sergeant Major (RSM to be precise), weigh up every instructions or Orders before associating with the dark side of the Orders.

This are facts usually many put too small a price on. Only to be caught in a swift and continuous circling current of Justice with no help from authorities.

Columnist: Akwah, Nana