With our first editorial, we decided to conduct an investigation into the life of men of the Police Service. Our aim is to see how their condition of service will help them work tirelessly during this time of global pandemic. We present the outcome of our investigation.
A Police career is a challenging and sometimes a dangerous choice. It is not just writing out tickets or making traffic stop. Police department is part of the city and the government. The main responsibility for the Police is to keep and maintain order by enforcing the laws of the country. A Police career also involves training sessions on the weapons range and recruits must pass the test on shooting range. Policing may involve the officer walking the streets of his or her district keeping the peace and arresting law breakers. A Police officer responds to call for help and aids those in need of medical attention. They investigate crimes; interrogate potential criminals; and they are required to keep detailed notes that will assist in the prosecution of criminals that have been arrested. And keeping detailed reports is very time consuming and some feel it is the worst part of their duties. A Police officer must be able to respond to any type of crises call whether on duty or off duty. It has often been said that a required course in a police career is psychology.
It is also preferred that the candidate that chooses police career should have some kind of higher education. The course that is preferred is criminal justice and those who choose a police career start out in a very low position. They are usually assigned to a specific community and get to know the citizens and business and only after a specific period of time will they be considered for promotions. For a country like Ghana, a Police officer has to work for a period of four years and sometimes more before he is considered for promotion. Police officers are often faced with unpredictable situations.
This article talks, in brief, about some of the challenges involved in police career.
Members of Government and politicians in general use the police for their own agendas. And it is trite to say that recruitment into the service is highly politicized. In fact some politicians say publicly how they help their constituents get enlisted into the service. When it comes to recruitment, politicians use their power to recruit their own family, friends, loved ones, and constituents into the service whether or not they are fit or qualified for the job. Those who are otherwise more qualified for the job are dropped because probably their names are not on the list of these politicians. This affects the commitment level of some of the officers and bad nuts always infiltrate the service.
Most often,when members of political parties, especially those in power, commit crimes, the Police find it very difficult to faithfully prosecute such persons unlike non-party members. The hands of the Police are tied in these matters. Police officers who stand up for the right course are dealt with accordingly by the big hand of politicians.
Unfortunately, promotion in the service is becoming an uphill tussle. It is largely becoming increasingly political for one to be promoted in the service. And what is sad is that when it is time for the police administration to recommend its hardworking personnel for promotion, those who are politically inclined, most often than not, get the recommendation.
But this is not strange or unexpected since the chairman of the police council is a politician. The head of the Interior Ministry which is responsible for the maintenance of peace and security of the country and which oversees the affairs of some services including the Police Service is also a politician. By default, the police administration takes instructions or directives from those two bodies.
Police barracks in Ghana are inadequate for the number of police officers we have. This shortage of accommodation facilities compels police officers to rent on their own and this presents risk for their lives and their families. And the irony is that rooms in the police barracks are very small in size to accommodate police officers and their families. Everyone who has ever visited some of these barracks will notice that some are in a deplorable state. Sometimes the buildings need common painting to give them another fresh look. But who will do that? Some of the buildings too have serious cracks on the walls and some of the roofs leak badly. When it rains, it is very difficult for human beings to live in the rooms. Some of the barracks do not even have water and personnel living in these barracks have to travel long distances to get fresh water.
For new recruit personnel in the service, they will know that the prevailing educational condition is that, after serving for eight years, they are qualified to go for further studies: that is study leave with pay or study leave without pay. Police officers work diligently in order to maintain clean records for the eight years to be able to qualify for study leave. But study leave in the service has turned to politics and ‘whom you know’. Having a study leave application approved for one to go to school is extremely challenging in the service.
One other challenge facing persons in the service is the issue of transfer. Transfer in the service now is very difficult and challenging. It is learnt that an officer is qualified for transfer after staying in one station for five years. Also, he or she is qualified to go on transfer from one region to the other if he or she spends ten years in a region but this provision is hardly allowed to work. In the service, some individuals struggle for transfer and others have to grease palms. Due to this some persons in the service stay in one particular station for more than twenty years
Going to college to become a senior officer in the service is like pulling hair from the nose. It is also another difficulty in the service. Every personnel has a unit he or she works in the service but when the fortunate ones go to write exams for the college course, they sometimes get exam questions from different areas and this makes it very difficult for some personnel to pass. These personnel get frustrated in the process.
As the Coronavirus continues to spread across the country with confirmed cases rising above 5,000, with 464 recovering and 24 deaths; while social distancing measures and stay at home orders are being implemented across the country; Police officers remain in their jobs taking active roles in their communities to protect the citizenry while they risk their lives contracting the Coronavirus.
It is worth mentioning that police officers are also human beings and they have families and loved ones which they return to at the end of discharging their duties and so certain measures should be put in place to protect them also.