Three security analysts have taken issues with the directive by the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), James Oppong-Boanuh, to henceforth heavily arm Motor Transport and Traffic Directorate (MTTD) officers, saying he could be putting innocent lives in danger.
They advised him, to focus on refresher courses for his men, as many police officers, have poor human relations in their approach to combating crime.
The three, two of whom were ex-soldiers; ex-Commander of the Ghana Battalion in ECOMOG, Colonel (rtd) Festus Aboagye, Director General of Joint Operations for the Ghana Armed Forces, Brigadier General Daniel Mishio and one Dr. George Hackman, warned of dire consequences if the directive is carried through.
The IGP, gave the directive last Thursday, after visiting families of two police officers killed in the line of duty by suspected armed robbers.
The decision to arm MTTD officers, comes on the heels of five police officers killed within the last 30 days, a situation that has brought to the fore, the issue of safety for law enforcers in the country.
The latest is the assassination of Sergeant Michael Dzamesi and Lance Corporal Mohammed Awal, who were on duty last Wednesday afternoon, when they were shot dead by some men in an unregistered vehicle at Buduburam, near Kasoa, in the Central Region.
Acting IGP, who announced this when he joined the Interior Minister and other senior police officers to visit the families of the two officers, said “from today, we will give MTTD officers weapons”.
He said Police officers who go on traffic duties will now carry guns.
The officers were killed after a confrontation with suspected robbers driving an unregistered Toyota Camry at Gomoa Buduburam in Kasoa. The officers were unarmed as per the rules of engagement of the MTTD.
However, one of the officers was reported to have slapped one of the suspects; Eric Kojo Duah. He was arrested at Atimpoku, on Saturday morning by the police, while heading to Volta Region in a black golf. He had been on the run since the incident.
Colonel (rtd) Festus Aboagye, speaking on TV3 on Saturday, insisted on clear guidelines in the handling of arms by MTTD officers, because the recent directive by the IGP, will rather increase the shooting of innocent citizens.
He advised the IGP to issue further directives on the rules of engagement of these officers regarding the state of the weapons, how it will be carried and even the circumstances under which it would be fired.
He also called for strict measures regarding persons with registered guns.
“Anybody who bears arms must be classified every year,” he suggested.
To him, “it is something that must be done”.“You must not compromise on it.”
The killing of the two officers, have called into question in-service training for the law enforcers.
Some officers are said to as yet receive any training after the six-month session they receive prior to enlistment into the Service.
But Colonel (rtd) Festus Aboagye, is not alone in expressing misgivings about it the IGP’s directive.
According to Brigadier General Daniel Mishio, who was also on the programme, there should be further training periodically for the officers.
On IGP’s directive, Brigadier-General Mishio, called for “threat analysis” of the situation before the directive is implemented.
He said without knowing what the threats are, it will be useless for the police officer, if they do not know what the weapons must be used specifically for.
He expressed fears that if such an exercise is not carried out, innocent citizens may rather suffer.
“So, I will suggest that the police do proper threat analysis on all operations they do, so that they know whether the MTTD has to be armed or not.”
Dr. George Hackman, a security expert, also advised that the Interior Minister, Ambrose Dery, and Mr. Oppong-Boanuh, not to put the entire nation at risk by arming all officers of the police MTTD.
He said, the police administration should not think of only the guns for the MTTD officers, but must also think of the preparedness of the personnel not to misuse the guns on the innocent citizens.
“Because of one incident, we should put the whole society at risk.”
Sharing his thoughts on the directives on Onua FM’s Yen Sempa last Friday, Dr. Hackman said “if things change, we also have to change. It’s not only about giving them the guns, but how adequate are they prepared”.
He noted that “most police officers, after they graduated, have not done any refresher courses, so, we could have a gun, but we could be nuisance to the public”.
“The type of training they go through before they come out, we have psycho analyst test that they have to go through. That part of the training should have been integral part of their training before they come out, but that is not there,” he explained.
Dr. Hackman suggested that police must have constant training or refresher courses to boost their capacity because most of them have not been given any refresher course after they passed out.
“There should be refresher courses for them. What training has been given to them? Where do they fall short? What refresher courses are they given to them?”
The all-male suspects are being held at the Kasoa Police Station. They are Ibrahim Zakaria, Isaac Amissah and Dominic Commey.
The IGP, has since dispatched a team from the headquarters to support the Central Regional Command in its investigations.