Monday, March 18, 2013

Dealing with the police in Ghana


I promised to write a blog post about dealing with the police while I was recounting my "Retrieving pick-pocketed items in Accra, Ghana" story. Obviously, I had dealt with the police in various ways after traffic offences and after my accident on December 30, 2012. But this involved a crime, investigation and repeated trips to a Police Station. Let me tell a thing or two about dealing with the police in Ghana.

First off, we must preface this blog post with the fact that policemen in Ghana are now paid much better than they were 10 years ago. They ride in better cars and they've been incentivized better to do their jobs. Traveler John bought them shiny blue cars to help them combat armed robbery and they became part and parcel of our traffic. Beyond every doubt, they have to do a better job maintaining law and order, protecting people amongst all they do. And even more importantly, they must exhibit "Service With Integrity". I'm not sure about you, but it's been a long time since I said anyone talk about "Papa Police abaa, akonti!"

My very first traffic offence brought me a policeman friend. So when I called him on Sunday, March 10, I expected him to help me greatly. He did, to a point. His friend at the Nima Police Station had closed from work when I needed him on the 11th, yeah, they run shifts like we do. When I ended up at the Nima Police station looking for a policeman to escort me, it wasn't going to be easy like I thought. I had to make a case, which is fair though. I remember telling the Inspector if he watched Inspector Bediako as a kid. Once, I really wanted to be a detective. I think I will be a fine investigator too.

Eventually, it was decided that the 2 smartly dressed policemen would join me to Paloma to meet the Suspect. They were not in uniform. I made a point about what if the Suspect is armed, they told me not to worry. If they had pistols, I couldn't have figured it out. If they were going to be waiting close by while I talked to the Suspect, they would have to be 'chilling'. Drinking 'chilled' beer that is. I was not to pay any fees for their work but I had to buy them beer. Since there was no sitting down involved in the end, I parted with some small cash which wasn't for beer. Or maybe it would be used to buy beer, who knows.

I always thought bail granting involved money. It does not, in Accra, or Ghana for that matter. Bail is granted to an individual by his/her confidante guaranteeing that (s)he will make the individual available if needed for police business. If (s)he couldn't produce him/her, then (s)he would have to answer. They are various things for which you pay fees for in an investigation. I stayed away from those. Ain't nobody got time for that! (if we can afford not to)

One 'cool' thing about being at the police station was the writing of statements. The police write some, and you write some too. Why, you no want go police station? E no bad koraa. Anyway, I wrote one statement to report the case and anther one to close it. Interestingly, statements don't have paragraphs. Some friends told me it's because some criminals can insert words like "not", "a", and other articles to alter the original statement. Hence, no room for edits or backspaces. Cos I would have loved to type my statement. Easier to save the info anyway.

That said, policemen in offices are typing o. Facebook was definitely a favorite website there. I wonder if they are monitoring some people's Facebook walls. I checked the Ghana Police Service Facebook account with a policewoman and we discovered that many people post on the Facebook Page's wall asking for police forms. I told you the police force is a more lucrative profession. :-) The police were friendly though. I like to joke and they took my jokes at face value.

There was another case happening around the same time where a Gabonese lady had had her laptop stolen or so. I asked the investigator if the Gabonese lady was living in Nima. He was surprised that I would try to see if I knew her. Small world yeah. I told him I knew a really hot Gabonese lady who lived in Nima. I had met this chic just this year. Turns out this particular lady lived elsewhere. Hey, this is still chatter material for the mamacita when I talk to her next :-) I already found her on Facebook too.

Folks have said the "Retrieving pick-pocketed items in Accra, Ghana" story ended without closure. The Suspect is still out there and wasn't really dealt with. Well, he's a suspect who was let go without trial. Did I have time to go to a trial in court? Maybe. I wouldn't mind. But these things can waste time paa. "But you must do this as your civil duty", a friend said. Make "Inspector Bediako" earn his badge. There's a point there. But getting my wallet's contents and a new phone is a bigger point. When I said I felt bad that the Suspect had bought the new S2, the police said they could return the phone. Besides, the police wanted to close the investigation quickly. No one likes going to court except erm... you know who.

All through these experiences, I have kept a light mood while talking to policemen but also giving them the utmost respect. Because they can really just deal with you. They like to be in control. They like for their egos to be massaged a bit. They have seen so many scenarios before so they must be trusted to make good decisions. I think the Ghana Police Service's motto is just about right - "Service with integrity".
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