SAFEGUARDING LAW ENFORCEMENT PERSONNEL

The fatal shooting of two police personnel on Wednesday, by armed men on the Buduburan-Kasoa-Winneba road in the Central Region, has rekindled the debate on the need for the police to wear bullet-proof vests or body armour for protection while on operational duties across the country.

To some, it is a necessary security tool that must be worn by police to protect them from attacks. To others the police should be well equipped with arms and communication gadgets as well as other demobilisation equipment such as stun guns and rubber bullets to defend themselves.

Whichever side one belongs, everyone is unanimous in the view that the police need some form of protection in while performing their duties.

It is simply unacceptable that within a month, five police personnel would be gunned down by unnamed assailants without any protection for them.

Everyone agrees that law enforcement is a dangerous profession.

In spite of that the personnel have put their lives on the line to ensure law, order and peace and for which they sometimes pay the highest price.

But that is not the reason for us to allow them to enforce the law with their bare hands and without body armour.

The question we ask is; what is the policy of Ghana Police Service on body armour and do they have one?

The Ghanaian Times does not have the answers but in the face of the continuous murder of police personnel by armed men, we think that the police should adopt a body armour policy to compel personnel on duty to wear while on operational duties at all the times, since many fatalities on-the-job are due to assaults with firearms.

In fact, the fatalities recorded during the month, all but one are gun related and that is why we insist that body armour or bullet-proof vest is a critical safety equipment for protection for our police personnel.

Although the experts say that there is no such thing as “bullet-proof armour” they nonetheless agree that ballistic resistance body armour can protect against many types of handgun and riffle ammunition.

That is why we agree with the Minister for the Interior, Mr Ambrose Dery when he advised the police personnel to wear the bullet-proof vest, to protect themselves when they (the police) complained that they were not comfortable wearing them.  Though the advise is timely, it also exposes the fact that, there is no clear policy as well as guidelines for police on wearing of body armour while on duty.

If there is none, we urge the police to, as a matter of urgency, adopt a policy immediately and strictly implement it so that our police personnel are protected from fatal attacks by criminals.

We must not allow few armed men to continue to kill our police. It is time to protect the personnel from firearm attacks while on duty at all times.

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