The scale of discord between the Ghana Police Service, the media and the general public seems to have reached its lowest ebb ever. While the public and media view recent events in the country as yardsticks to measure the professionalism or otherwise of the police, the police think the media and the public lack enough appreciation of what law enforcement is all about.
Unfortunately, whenever any altercation occurs, the police have, whether rightly or wrongly, been at the receiving end of the national jabbing. And in recent times, what must have worsened the plight of the police were the three unfortunate incidents that occurred consecutively at various parts of the country in the past week.
First was the shooting down of seven young men in the Ashanti region on suspicion of armed robbery, which led to civil unrest in some suburbs of Kumasi. While relatives of the deceased claim they were innocent victims with no known criminal records, the police insist they were armed men who first engaged the police in a shootout. It took the intervention of the President, and an assurance of independent investigations, to put the unrest on hold.
Then barely a week later, an armed police Lance-Corporal was seen on video pummeling a woman carrying a three-month old baby in a banking hall in Accra. Her ‘crime’ was that she had gone to the bank to withdraw her lifetime savings of GH¢270 (about $60), and would not leave the bank until she got her money. This time, not even the condemnations of the President and Inspector-General of Police (IGP) would tone down the public outcry and nationwide verbal attacks against the police.
And just as the police were leaking their wounds, another nasty incident, involving some irate youth and a police officer in Manya Krobo (Eastern Region), led to the accidental discharge from the policeman’s riffle, killing a bullion van driver.
Reports say the youth, who were mourning a dead colleague, blocked the main road and obstructed oncoming traffic. An attempt to disarm the officer led to a scuffle, and subsequently, the accidental discharge.
Even though all the cases are being investigated, THE PUBLISHER does not think the police are always guilty whenever there is a violent or bloody incident involving them and members of the public.
The paper thinks that, if for nothing at all, the Manyakpongunor incident that happened in the afternoon of July 21, 2018 has little or nothing to do with police intolerance or poor training as Ghanaians are being made to believe.
In the case of the media-police relation, we dare say that journalists must also be educated on the fact that liberty has limits. How on earth does a journalist think he has the right to cover a political event with armed personal bodyguards?
THE PUBLISHER believes that what happened at the Koforidua National Delegates Conference of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) was as a clear recipe for a police-media confrontation, but for the professional approach of the security in handling the matter.
In our view, just as the police are doing their best to protect life and property, the general public and media practitioners also owe it their duty to accept that there are limitations to their fundamental rights and liberties.