‘We Need Minister For Police Affairs’

The Chairman of Strategic Consortium and Strategist (SCS), Kofi Lucas, has tasked government to consider the creation of a new ministry to fully take charge of police service affairs. Mr Lucas was speaking at the national launch of the Community Policing Unit (CPU) and CPU conferences at the Banquet Hall in Accra. The ministry, according to him, would be responsible for the welfare of service persons as well as coordinating its operations and activities. He said it saddened his heart to meet retired police officers in a rather devastating and deplorable state. Mr. Lucas observed that if a special ministry was assigned to the police, personnel’s retirement would be better planned to ensure they were comfortable during the period. He tasked the community to partner the police in delivering quality service adding that modern policing was a shared responsibility. The Inspector General of Police (IGP), Paul Tawiah Quaye, noted that the current practice of diverting scanty resources on a daily basis to meet emergencies like violent political demonstrations, land and chieftaincy disputes was affecting police operations. The police service, he stressed, was the most visible manifestation of government authority, performing the most obvious immediate and intrusive task to ensure the well-being of individuals as well as communities. The IGP reiterated that effective community policing had a positive impact on reducing neighbourhood crime, helping to reduce fear of crime and enhancing quality of life in communities. This, he observed, could only be achieved by the deployment of well-trained personnel to the communities and the shifting of focus and priorities from reactive to proactive policing methods. He said police-public partnership could lead to low cost of living as individuals would no longer invest in their personal safety or the security of their properties. The Director of Department for Graduate Studies and Research at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre, (KAIPTC), Dr. Kwesi Aning, stated that the launch of the CPU should represent a fundamental shift in the philosophy of policing in Ghana in theory and, more importantly, in operational terms. “What this means in operational terms, practice and reality is that it will demand a shift also in organizational values,” he stated. Such organizational and structural shifts would be difficult and time consuming to implement, he said. “Basically, the introduction of the CPU will not be an overnight miracle cure for all the civil-policing difficulties in Ghana or a quick fix even if it may make dramatic and immediate improvements.” He observed that surely, there would be issues with practical implementation, ensuring public buy-in, financial implications and more importantly, developing the criteria for measuring success. “The public ought to recognize that the CPU, its establishment and introduction would not and should be seen as a substitute or replacement for other needed forms of policing. Rather, it should be seen as a complimentary strategy to other strategies. The key to the success of this novel idea is that the operations of the police service are decentralized enough for operations of the police to be taken into the community. Meaning, the police should be found in communities, substations, storefronts, marketplaces, lorry parks: basically where the community resides and goes about its daily businesses,” he stated. “Because this is new and a general understanding of the philosophical underpinnings of this new approach to policing in Ghana is not well understood, there must be the recognition that there must be a constant effort to improve it daily. It means that police officers must be willing and ready to tailor their responses to crime and their interactions with the public to become accustomed to changes in society. But this can only take place when the police-community relationship is premised on trust and a partnership based on equality; that the main end result is customer satisfaction – working in proactive partnership with citizens to identify and solve problems,” he noted. Dr. Aning was speaking on the topic ‘Negotiating the Dilemmas of Community Policing in a Transitional Democracy.’ The CPU was officially launched by the Minister for Interior, Dr. Benjamin Kumbuor, on behalf of the vice president. Dr. Kumbuor said it was an undeniable fact that there was always friction between the police and the public in the performance of the former’s duties and activities. “This often happens due to lack of public trust and confidence in the police emanating from some police officers’ unnecessary use of force in the discharge of their duties. It is against this background that the police administration is introducing Community Policing to play a complementary role in the achievement of the mission of the service,” the minister said. He emphasized that community policing was a philosophy in contemporary times that called for the police to move away from the reactive crime control model, towards a philosophy and practice that supported proactive crime prevention, problem-solving, community engagement in the form of cooperation and support or “partnership” approach to crime reduction in the community. “It is a strategy for encouraging the public in controlling and preventing crime in their communities,” he added.