Addressing Police Misconduct: A Case For Change (1)

BUILDING TRUST between citizens and law enforcement is key to a safer community, says DCOP Lydia Donkor, the Director General in charge of the Police Professional Standards Bureau (PPSB) of the Ghana Police Service.

She said as a result, a call centre has been established at the PPSB Head office located at the Nima Police Station where citizens can call to report police officers who act unprofessionally towards them in line of duty.

“In addition, the PPSB has created a welcoming reception area and furnished a meeting room with a conference table and window blinds to create a safe and welcoming environment for complainants who visit the office. All these measures have been put in place to address police misconduct by personnel,” she said.

The PPSB is mandated to ensure that the Ghana Police Service always maintains its professional standards while officers exercise their power responsibly.

The unit, also recommends appropriate sanctions to the Inspector General of Police (IGP) on officers who show infractions or unprofessional behavior.

“We are present in 11 out of the 17 police regions of Ghana and cases we handle include extortion, unnecessary delay of cases, unlawful arrests, among other vices,” says DCOP Donkor.

She explains that “the police administration will not shield any officer who misconducts themselves in line of duty, when found guilty.”

A security expert, Adib Saani, says the failure of the police administration to promptly respond to misconducts of some personnel over the past years, has dented the image of the service in the eyes of the ordinary Ghanaian.

He said those officers involved take advantage of the vulnerability of their victims to misconduct themselves through various ways.

“They have also painted a picture in the minds of the ordinary citizen that they are untouchable and can do whatever they like and if nothing is done by the police administration, to nip this situation in the bud, the trust between the police and the public will continue to fall,” he said.

The police play an important role in the community by maintaining public order and safety by allowing a free society to thrive.

Ghana’s Constitution gives the police the authority to deter, stop, and investigate crimes.

Any police officer who faithfully executes their duties, helps to keep the community safe, gains the trust and confidence of his or her constituents, prevents and solves crimes. But when the police abuse their powers, they cause significant harm to individuals, society, and freedoms.

Reports of police misconduct have become common in the news and it includes the excessive use of force, brutality, corruption, coercive interrogations and witness tampering, among others. These actions can result in physical harm or death, false imprisonment and violation of constitutional rights.

In addition to individual harm, acts of the police misconduct risks societal harm by threatening the administration of justice and eroding the trust between the police and the citizens.

In May 2022, a 42-year-old trader by name Mary Agbenu Edorla, accused a police woman of snatching her husband during investigations into a reported case.

The victim, who made a formal complaint to the PPSB, said the police woman, Detective Chief Inspector Divina Worlanyo Afenu, a Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit (DOVVSU) Officer with the Tema Katamanso Police, allegedly had an amorous relationship with her husband, Stephen Tenge, while investigating a case the complainant was involved in.

“I introduced my husband to her while she was investigating a case, I was involved in. She requested that my husband rather assisted her with the investigations, and all I could see was later was that she was having an affair with my husband,” she said.

“This police woman used to call my husband at odd hours but I was made to believe that she needed information from my husband for her investigations, but little did I know that they were having an affair,” she said in tears.

“Now, she has succeeded in taking away my husband in the name of investigations and, as we speak, they are currently living as husband and wife,” the woman alleged.

She continued, “I initially reported the matter to some senior police officers at the station where the woman works, but they did nothing, so, personally, I reported the case to Chief Superintendent Adu, the Divisional Commander,” she disclosed.

A senior police officer with the Tema Region of the Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit who corroborated the story, said this act whereby female officers snatch the husbands of complainants was very common in the Tema Region.

“It will interest you to know that, some of the victims of abuse end up losing their husbands to some of these police investigators in the line of investigation.

The source said the senior officers of the region are aware of this issue but none wants to talk about it.

If nothing is done about this issue, the public especially, those with violence cases, will also lose respect and confidence in the service, since some believe that PPSB only investigates cases of extortion.

BY Linda Tenyah-Ayettey