Editorial: Gov’t must retool weaponry of police
We reported yesterday that the Western North Regional Command of the Ghana Police Service has mounted a search to arrest six armed robbers who shot and wounded Number 38773G, Sgt Thomas Akoka, at Kotosaa, a village on the Juaboso-Enchi road. Sgt Akoka had been detailed to escort gold bullion when he was attacked, but his attempt to defend himself failed, as the A47 assault rifle he was holding failed to fire.
The Chronicle views the failure of the gun to fire as a serious issue that must not be swept under the carpet. People always fear the military, not because of the uniforms they wear, but the guns they wield. In the same vein, armed robbers fear the police, not because of their uniform, but the powerful weapons they handle. Without the weapon, the policeman or woman becomes prey in the eyes of the armed robbers, and who must be killed.
It is, therefore, regrettable that a powerful weapon like the AK47 will fail to fire when the policeman/woman is at the battle front. If we, as a state, are desirous in fighting the emerging armed robbery crimes, then the weapons we give to police personnel must be in good condition. These police personnel are also human beings who have got wives and children they must look after. Their deaths at the battle front will, therefore, be a great loss to their family members who depend on them for survival.
This is the reason why we must not joke with their protection, but it appears to us that some of the weapons they carry are not in good condition, and nobody seems to care about that. Indeed, about two years ago, some of the junior officers, who are always at the battle front fighting the armed robbers, complained to us that they are using un-serviced weapons, which endanger their lives when they go out on duty against armed criminals, who sometimes wield sophisticated weapons.
This is major news we could have carried on our front page, but after a hectic debate at the editorial conference, we decided to shelve the story in the interest of personnel, and that of the state. Our fear was that if the story is given prominence, it would embolden the social miscreants to always target our gallant officers, knowing very well that their weapons are not in good condition.
But the big question is: how long should we keep on shelving such stories, when the police personnel are suffering? Obviously, the suffering police personnel cannot talk and so the responsibility lies on us, the media, to raise the issue.
The Chronicle is not trying to blame the Inspector General of Police (IGP) and his team of administrators over the unfortunate development – we believe the issue goes beyond them. Buying weapons to equip the police is obviously not the responsibility of the IGP – that is the sole responsibility of the government.
In view of this, The Chronicle is calling on the government, through the Minister for the Interior, to urgently consider the possibility of retooling the armoury of the Ghana Police Service. We are aware of the logistics in the form of operational vehicles the government has given to the police in recent times. However, weaponry is another critical issue that must be addressed immediately.
In this modern age, the police should not be carrying AK47 rifles manufactured in the 1970s and 80s. Such weapons have outlived their usefulness and must be replaced. Giving personnel some of these weapons to fight armed robbers is like signing the death warrants for them to be executed. The personnel are also human beings and, therefore, deserve better.
The state should not be concentrating only on the military and relegate the interests of the police to the background. The old AK47s in the system must be withdrawn and the time to do so is now.