The Minister for the Interior, Mr Ambrose Dery, yesterday cut sod for the construction of hangers for police helicopters at the Formed Police Unit (FPU) headquarters at Tesano in Accra.
The project which is being constructed by Rizzle Consult in partnership with Paramount Group would have facilities such as hanger space, car parks, landing sites and security chain fence.
It is expected to be completed in September this year.
Mr Dery said the police had land, marine and now aerial capability to enhance their capacity to take part in light operations,and air cover to gather intelligence over what was happening on the ground which we always depended on the Ghana Air Force to provide.
He recalled that in 2018, outside normal budgetary allocation, the President declared an amount of GH¢800 million to retool the police, adding, “Since then we have watched him consistently, systematically built the capacity of the security agencies in particular the police.”
“So in December 2017 160 pickups, last year 200 cars and other equipment and today he is introducing an aspect of policing that Ghana has not known the Air wing side of the police,” he added
Mr Dery said the government would continue to develop the capacity on the land and the marine because “when we were involved in operation vanguard we realised that we needed to empower our marine to be able to handle it.”
“With the air wing we are expecting three helicopters some months from now but today we are providing the infrastructure that would keep the helicopters when they arrive and therefore we need to construct hangars where the helicopters would be stored,” he added.
He said six of Police officers would be sent to South Africa from next month to be trained as pilots, adding that other personnel would also be trained to take care of the engineering “and they would come back and man the air wing and continue to train others”.
The minister said the president was concerned about the shortfall in police personnel and making efforts for the Ghana Police Service to achieve the ratio of one police to 148 people.
“ We intent to recruit 4000 police, with 2000 already in training and all this is meant to make sure that we have the men and women to do this,” he added.
“My attention has been drawn to information that the government is going to move police from cap-grading to another system of payment and I want to make it clear that the president would not make any change that would make security personnel worsen on retirement or on pension,” he assured.
He said the Police should reciprocate the gesture of the President and continue to do more in the service and the things that would make people safe in the country.
The Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mr David Asante-Apeatu, in his remarks said in an attempt to reduce deployment challenges the Service made an appeal to government to consider equipping the Police Service with at least a helicopter to facilitate deployment and reduce response time to public disorder related incidence.
He said as a security and law enforcement agency, their mandate enjoins them to provide the desired security and maintain law and order at all times to ensure national cohesion.
Mr Asante Apeatu commended the government for their commitment to retooling the Service by the acquisition of helicopters to strengthen their operational capacity.
He said the supply of the three helicopters by the government to the Police Service was an inspiration toward the police administration vision to become a world class police organisation capable of delivering planned, protective, democratic and peaceful services up to international best practices.
BY ANITA NAYRKO-YIRENKYI