The Minister for the Interior, Mr Ambrose Dery, has defended the government’s decision to protect and arm all policemen on duty to enable them to effectively exercise their right to self-defence.
He insists that the decision is in the interest of both the citizenry and the police, as it will “make sure that our policemen on duty have the capacity to fight violent crimes within the law”.
Addressing the officers and men of the Bono Regional Command of the Police Service at a durbar in his honour in Sunyani, the Interior Minister explained: “If citizens can license and carry arms to protect themselves, then it is logical for trained policemen to also carry arms to protect themselves.”
Mr Dery, who is also the Member of Parliament (MP) for Nandom, was on a day’s working tour of the region, during which he separately met officials of the various agencies under the ministry, at which they openly enumerated problems militating against the smooth execution of their duties.
Equipping the police
The Interior Minister further explained that in addition to the police being armed, the government would provide bullet-proof vests, arms and vests with video cams that would record their activities.
“My first observation when I arrived was to check if the directive for officers to be provided with bullet-proof vests had been obeyed and if Sunyani had received its allocation.
“I’m happy to note that they have been given and I have seen that we have them on. The protective clothing and arms will protect us, while the cameras will enable us to make sure that the activities of our officers are within the law,” Mr Dery told the officers and men
Reacting to criticisms of the new directive, he said: “I want to make it clear that under President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, we shall not send out our policemen unprotected, unarmed and helpless to be slaughtered by criminals and senseless elements in society. That will not happen.”
Mr Dery added that in 2018, the President voted GHc800 million extra to retool the police and made it clear at that time that the police would be retooled, including the acquisition of helicopters.
He said as part of the retooling, 567 vehicles had so far been received and more were expected, saying they would include specialised vehicles to ensure the protection of the police while on special duties.
He stated that an Air Wing of the Police Service had been introduced, explaining that currently a hanger was being constructed for the three helicopters, while eight officers were in South Africa receiving training as pilots and engineers to man the organisation.
Mr Dery congratulated police officers in the region on effectively carrying out their duties to make the area relatively safe and peaceful. “Everybody knows your value,” he told the officers and men at the durbar.
The minister gave further assurance that the number of policemen would be beefed up through additional recruitment exercises, explaining that every community needed the services of the police. Mr Dery advised policemen to wear the protective gears that had been provided and directed police commanders to sanction those who would refuse to wear them, with an excuse that “we are uncomfortable wearing them.”
The Bono Regional Police Commander, DCOP Godfred Owusu Boateng, gave assurances that officers and men in the region would do their best to ensure peace to enable citizens to go about their duties without looking over their shoulders.