Friday, 21 July 2017

Would A Paramilitary Police Force Serve Mother Ghana Better?

Last year, I had a few encounters with some of the men and women who serve in the Ghana Police Service.

I interacted with the said police officers at Suhum and Anyinam respectively - following the encroachment of our family's farmlands by illegal sand-winners in Thompsonakura, near Kyekyewre, off the Accra-Kumasi highway, and by illegal loggers and illegal gold miners at Akyem Juaso, which is about five minutes as the crow flies from Osino junction.

As a result of those encounters, I wrote an article  outlining a possible way forward for effectively policing our nation - in the face of the creeping lawlessness and impunity of the ruthless criminal syndicates engaged in illegal sand-winning, illegal logging and illegal gold mining, across our homeland Ghana.

In light of the recent attacks and murders of a number of policemen, and the call by the Inspector General of Police, David Asante-Appeatu, for police commanders nationwide to be proactive in safeguarding the security of police stations and the men and women under their command, this blog is republishing the said article mentioned above.

It is our contribution to the ongoing national conversation about the security of police stations  and the personal security of police officers, as well public safety generally, in Ghana.

Please read on:

"Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Time To Transform The Ghana Police Service Into A High-Tech Paramiltary Force?

In an age of global terrorism should the Ghana Police Service not be transformed into a paramilitary force - that is well-resourced and equipped with bleeding-edge technology?

Recently, I have had to interact with a number of officers from the Ghana Police Service - as a result of the latest wave of trespassing and criminal damage on some of our family's farmlands caused by ruthless illegal sand-winners, illegal gold miners and illegal loggers.

It has led one to appreciate better, the dedication that seems to be the ethos guiding the very difficult and dangerous work, which the gallant men and women of  the Ghana Police Service do daily, to maintain law and order nationwide, and to assist the victims of crime in Ghana to obtain justice, through the investigations they carry out to unravel crime.

What has particularly struck one the most, and been an eye-opener - about most of the officers one has had to deal with thus far -  is their sense of professionalism, despite the obvious lack of resources the Ghana Police Service has to contend with daily: as it valiantly fights crime across the country with one arm metaphorically tied behind its back.

It was also glaring to one that our ruling elites don't seem to realise that in an age of global terrorism, the nation needs to put the Ghana Police Service on a war-footing. Literally.

The work that the men and women of the Ghana Police Service do daily involves an element of danger and risk to their own lives. That is something that all Ghanaians ought to appreciate. We need to respect their courage in the face of extreme danger - when responding to cases of armed robbery, for example.

The question is: Given the dangerous times we live in today, should the Ghana Police Service not be transformed into a paramilitary force, with military ranks, and put at par with the Ghana Armed Forces in terms of their pay and benefits? Ditto equipping them comprehensively  to fight crime successfully nationwide?

To work smarter to outwit criminals across the nation, and stay ahead of them, the Ghana Police Service needs to use technology on a much wider scale. It should be possible, for example, for every District Command of the Ghana Police Service to cover virtually the whole of the area under its jurisdiction, by using the Urthecast high-resolution satellite platform.

And to be effective crime fighters able to prevent crime through intelligence-gathering and intelligence-sharing, all the men and women serving in the Ghana Police Service ought to be able to access every technology platform that the Ghana Police Service uses.

All police vehicles ought to have tracking systems and have satellite navigation equipment on board to enable them respond to reported incidents swiftly.

And should the authorities in Ghana not be talking to Facebook, for example,  about using its DeepFace artificial intelligence facial recognition software to provide Ghana with a national identification system - using the public private partnership (PPP) model?

Access to gathered data  for Facebook, will be payment in kind, for an innovative win-win PPP with a tech company that handles and stores data from hundreds of millions of social media interactions efficiently on a daily basis.

Part of the deal, would be for Facebook to provide all the men and women of the Ghana Police Service, with the latest mobile digital devices, and internet access for all the security agencies in Ghana.

Naturally, that will call for ICT training for all the  men and women of  Ghana's security agencies - and constantly upgrading those ICT skills through regular refresher courses.

One could also not help noticing the lack of awareness, of the many benefits of the latest technonology, amongst police officers, generally.

For example, I overhead an investigator at the headquarters of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID), asking a complainant to bring along a measuring tape, to enable them measure a parcel of land.

If the investgator in question had had a police service issued digital device that had the SnooCode application on it, by simply standing at the four corners of the land in question, and keying  in their respective coordinates, he would immediately have had the exact dimensions and precise location of the land on the map of Ghana, in a matter of seconds.

Futhermore, if every neighbourhood in urban Ghana had CCTV coverage, for example, would that  not help the police to monitor those neighbourhoods remotely - and swiftly dispatch patrol teams to apprehend those who commit crimes there?

From a public safety standpoint, that is how high-resolution satellite imagery platforms, such as those belonging to the U.S. company, Skybox Imaging, can literally empower District Police Commands of the Ghana Police Service, nationwide.

In an age of global terrorism, the Ghana Police Service ought to collaborate with the security agencies of  Ghana's key foreign allies, such as the UK's  Counter-Terrorism Command of London's Metropolitan Police Service, MI6 and GCHQ.

It is through such cooperation, for example, that they can improve their counter-terrorism training, and also apprehend the many online swindlers, who have turned Ghana into a global power in sundry online scams and egregious internet fraud.

Above all, the Ghana Police Service ought to deploy aerial platforms such as drones and helicopters  carrying cameras and thermal imaging equipment that can be sent to locations countrywide when needed. In that regard, it ought to talk to the Israeli police and military - and collaborate with them for training purposes to build expertise in the use of long-flying surveillance drones.

The Ghana Police Service and the other security agencies in Ghana also need to take a look at the experimental Airbus Zephyr, which is solar-powered and is designed to fly nonstop for years, at altitudes of up to 20km - which is why it  is designated a high-altitude pseudo-satellite (HAPS).

The nation ought to also do something quickly about the accommodation it provides the gallant men and women in police uniforms, who risk their lives daily to keep all of us safe, by providing  them with well-designed and well-built  modern accommodation.

I was horrified when I saw the accommodation provided for the Suhum District Police Command. It is disgraceful that hardworking policemen and policewomen  who risk their lives daily, to keep ordinary people safe, should be forced to live in such dreadful accommodation, in Nkrumah's Ghana in this day and age.

The time has definitely come to make the Ghana Police Service  an effective 21st century crime-fighting law enforcement agency, by transforming it into a high-tech paramilitary force, able to deal with all internal threats to public order and ensure that crime levels are kept to the barest minimum."
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