The Fallacy Of Calling Principled Police Officers Wicked And Too Difficult

We live in a society where citizens are not ready to face the consequences of their actions and inactions, yet they do what they ought not to do and absent from doing what they are obliged by law to do.

The major role of the police in society is to enforce the laws of the land. He is called upon to perform his constitutional mandate whenever someone breaks the law. Again, his duty comes to play when there is a failure on the part of any citizen to act in a way demanded by law, in a particular situation.

According to Wilson (1999)
There are three (3) styles of police behavior;
1. Legalistic Style: Legalistic police officers operate according to the "letter of the law." They make a decision on whether or not a law is broken or obeyed, and go ahead to make arrest.
2. Watchman Style: Watchman style focuses on maintaining order. Officers in this category tend to ignore minor infractions such as traffic violations and other  misdemeanors. Watch man type of police officers try to  resolve cases and issue warnings, hence make fewer arrests.
3. Service Style : This style of policing is a balance between the Legalistic and the watch man.

The discretion on which path of action to take in any particular situation,   therefore lies in the best judgment of the officer concerned.

Principled police officers discharge their duties without fear or favor. They are honest, courageous, focused, decisive and frankly brutal on the true course of action.

Miller,  Braswell and Whitehead,  in their book, Human Relations and Police Work,  argued that no two situations are alike in police work. That each  situation calls for a fresh and creative approach.

The commission of a crime , almost invariably, has considerable emotional effect, not only on the victim of the crime or his relatives and friends, as the case may be,  but also on the entire community. Twumasi (1985) .

It is therefore important that,  sometimes,  the offender is made to dance to the tune of his own music, to satisfy the deterrent and preventive theory of punishment.

Indeed,  even though,  a police officer can arrive at the conclusion that a law has been violated, he cannot proceed to punish the offender instantly, all by himself. The justice system does not begin and end with the Police officer. He has no powers to send the offender to the prison,  for instance, without first putting the accused person before  the court, for an interpretation of the case against the offender.

The Ghanaian definition of  a good police officer is that officer,  who can manipulate the justice system, and help an offender, whom they have sympathy for,  from  facing the wrath of the law,  irrespective of the degree of the offence. The so called good officer is expected to use all means, whether foul or crooked, to let the offender go scot free, provided he is ready to compensate the victim financially.

Wrong doers should not be pampered because they have money to settle the victim of their malice.

There is a story of a rich man who has a penchant for committing crimes against members of the community,  and paying his way out of the grips of the law. Any time he is sent to court, and find guilty of the crime, he will be fined ,which he pays outright, and go home to commit another one. This happened for a number of times. He became notoriously known in the community, for being so rich and powerful.

One day,  he was arrested again by the police for assault, charged with same and sent to the same court.

Before going to the court, the accused sent one of his servants to load cash in big bags, which was packed in one of his private cars, and drove to the court yard. They waited for the judgment, and the subsequent fines.

Low and behold, he was found guilty,  and accordingly,  sentenced with the option of a fine. Unfortunately,  this time, the accused person was unable to pay the fine. He was ordered to pay only  coins, in the sum of Ghc20 on the spot,  or in default,  serve one month imprisonment. Since he brought only notes,  and no one was willing to change the money for him, he was sent to prison.

A police officer, who thinks a particular crime committed is too heinous to be settled out of court is tug as too difficult.

In fact, enormous  pressure will be put on him to change his stance, both by the civilian and fellow officers alike. Some of his colleague officers will also make it conspicuously clear before the civilian, that it is officer A A, who is not willing to help them.

In the end, such officers look bad in the eyes of the public, and be misconstrued as the devil. They become victims of circumstances.

By the actions of the society, we make what is good bad and what is bad good. It is easy to be corrupt in this part of our world, and very difficult to be committed to the interest of the state.

That notwithstanding, there are efficient, principled and disciplined police officers, who have the unrepentant desire to make the communities safer for the law abiden citizens to live in peace and tranquility. The best that can be done for them to succeed in protecting the state is to ensure that article 200, clause 3 of the 1992 Constitution,  which says that "The Police Service shall be equipped and maintained to perform its traditional role of maintaining law and order."  is given practical effect now.

Sufficient budgetary allocation to the security sector should be a matter of priority to governments, and its allied agencies.

So the next time you hear  someone comments that a particular police officer is wicked and too difficult, probe further to find out in what way. You may be shocked to be told plainly,  that he refused to be negatively influenced.

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