Letter to IGP David Apeatu

IGP David Asante-Apeatu
IGP David Asante-Apeatu

Dear David,

I will give you a clue: Funeral at the La Trade Fair Site. Lost car key. More? Ok, here I go: During the conviviality – for that’s what our funerals have now become – after those of us around had failed to find the lost key and had all but given up, you appeared on the scene and in an instant spotted it! Astonished and impressed, a crony remarked that it had to take our top spy to find the key! You were then boss of one of the Departments at Police HQ and you had come to public notice when in that capacity it fell on you to interrogate former President Rawlings about something or the other he had said regarding the serial murder of women in Accra…Your calm professionalism and courage drew much admiration from people…

I should have written to you much earlier when I heard that you had been elevated to the position of the Inspector General of Police (IGP), not merely to say congratulations, but more importantly to offer you a wish list of what I believed should engage you in that office to make a difference…I kept procrastinating until recent events, when sad to say you are in something of a pickle. Whether you will come out of it unscathed or come unstuck, is not for me to prophesy…

But first things first. The one area that I expected you to acquit yourself, if not with distinction, but at least, admirably is to have brought order to our road traffic. It is a nightmare driving in our cities or on our highways. The indiscipline is outrageous and homicidal. Very, very, few people respect and observe traffic rules and regulations. The majority just don’t give a damn, and that includes the police! Traffic lights mean nothing to us. Trotros, taxis, and motor bikers have decided that traffic lights are not meant for them and they will run through the red light with impunity, often with the police looking on either in acquiescence or out of helplessness. Wrongful parking, unnecessary hooting, drunk driving, unregistered motor bikes recklessly darting in and out of traffic and other infractions are a constant threat to life and limb and often do end up in needless fatalities. The smash ups paint a picture of a country gone mad!

These are some of the things on my wish list I thought you could have made a difference in, but you seem to have been occupied with “more important” concerns than mere traffic management! If you had brought discipline to our roads, I am sure, we, the grateful citizens would have contributed and erected a bronze statue in your honour. But as it is, things have gone from bad to worse under your watch. What a lost opportunity…Such a pity, such a shame…A pity and a shame because you had/have the resources at your beck and call to help stem the chaos: Your friends in the media. I know you have many of us you could have brought on board to embark on an intense and sustained campaign on traffic discipline and it would have cost you nothing. That, together with a surge in effective police presence applying the carrot and stick principle and you could have turned things round in only a matter of months! None of them individually, collectively or indeed their parent media houses would have denied you…

And to round up this section on my wish list, how have our francophone neighbours, with more motor bikes on their roads than us, managed to maintain such discipline? And oh, not forgetting Rwanda and how they have succeeded in integrating “okadas” in their urban transportation mix…As a young modern IGP, you could have taken traffic discipline to make a mark in. As it is, apart from the politically motivated scrapes that you get embroiled in, you are going the way of your predecessors: A footnote.

And another thing. I am not an admirer of your title. Inspector General of Police (IGP). It is an outmoded colonial relic. Our British colonial overseers who introduced it here have long since dropped it with the advent of decentralised policing. An Inspector General these days means something else in the military, prisons, etc. He or she carries it as a functional title but not as an overall boss of the police establishment. You should be teaching me this, and I make no claims of knowing more than you do…

Chief Constables in the UK carry the authority of their decentralised jurisdictions, whether the Metropolitan Police in London, Manchester, Merseyside, etc. It is even more pronounced in the US where local police departments have become stars in their own rights and even feature in movies and have become fashion icons. The New York Police Department or NYPD is legendary, and of course, LAPD and the others…We come across this or that “Police Chief” all the time in the news – what with all the shootings in the US – taking full responsibility for law and order issues in their jurisdictions, sometimes with a mayor by their side… On any day in any Ghanaian town, you are likely to come across someone wearing either a cap, a shirt, or some other fashion statement with an iconic PD, but especially the NYPD, logo! Ask them to wear a Ghana Police branded apparel as a fashion statement!!!

But even as they are so decentralised, and have assumed their own identities and authorities, the police in the UK and US are backed by highly professional and powerful independent crime investigating arms of State: Scotland Yard in the UK and FBI in the US. One of my personal movie favourites is the police training series, “Police Academy”. Remember Captain Harris and Commandant Eric Lassard?

So Frankly, I find a young professional like you, all trussed up as an IGP being pushed about by strident and crude partisan politicians rather embarrassing! After Ayawaso West Wuogon, you are on every one’s tongue for all the right but mostly wrong reasons. Some have called for your resignation, dismissal or even prosecution for the events of January 31 2019, when in fact, it is the Divisional Commander of that jurisdiction or Greater Accra Regional Police Commander who should be taking the can if our police had been efficiently decentralised. I am sure you get my drift.

David, your IGP job has been highly politicised (built up over the years) and the public views you as such – a politician, not a policeman! So, in a highly charged and glaringly politically motivated crime as happened at the AWW by-election, you have become the fall guy. Yours is to be a constable first and foremost and when such law and order issues rear up you can be an acceptable arbiter. Now from indications, you are being counted as part of the problem.

I have seen footage of some of your colleagues boldly and bravely and openly advocating a new police paradigm. That is the future…
Go back to being constables, not appendages of political parties or body guards to political leaders reviewing parades on Independence Day!

David, our Police Service is in need of a new image and confidence. The officer corps is inordinately terrified of and panders to politicians and the others have been reduced to pathetic beggars (Massa, it is no good oo…Your boys are hungry)! COP Kofi Boakye and one other, have put their necks out and they need our support, but especially yours.

As I said earlier, I do not know whether you will come out unscathed or unstuck, whichever way, there is no better time than now for you to make the difference…Take politics out of the police and the police out of politics. Resignation? That’s in your hands. Dismissal? Squarely in the hands of those who made you IGP.


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