Some memories are of great significance in our lives. Ironically, it is the bad memories that are indelibly impressed on our minds.
The loss of a loved one is one of such memories. However, it is the circumstances of the loss that make the memory stay permanently with us. I will never forget the mid-morning hour of July 2, 2016.
It was a day I had a call that one of my nephews, the only young man who had joined the Police Service from our family, had been shot dead by armed robbers while on patrol duty in the night. The incident occurred on an isolated road in the Brong Ahafo Region and within hours, the social media was awash with the news, complete with photographs.
Recently, as one of his last acts of public engagement, former President John Mahama dedicated a cenotaph at the Police Training Depot, Tesano in Accra in memory of all police officers who had died in the course of their duties. This edifice being new, has only eight names inscribed on it, and they are the names of those who had fallen in 2016 alone. As fate would have it, Detective Sergeant Humphrey Senanu Lumor is the first name on the list.
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As usual, great speeches were delivered – no different from what was said at the burial on August 26, 2016 – about their heroism and how grateful society was for their gallantry. Wreaths were laid, the Last Post sounded and a lot of tears were shed by wives, children and sympathisers.
Three significant aspects of the ceremony could not fail to escape my attention. One: All the top hierarchy of the Police Service, including some retired officers, were represented. Two: All the fallen heroes were young and were below the rank of “Inspector”. Three: All except one were victims of bullet wounds which invariably happened in the night.
One could draw a number of inferences from the above observations but I make no insinuations. The only question I need to ask is, “How are junior officers on hazardous operations protected from bullets?” Just the other day, I passed by a young police man on guard duty at a bank on the Spintex Road in Accra. All his body protection was provided by no more than a reflective vest. Yes, I repeat, a reflective vest!
I want to emphasise that I have read the police report about the incident on July 2, 2016, when the scion of my family was ambushed and killed on an isolated, long stretch of road between Kukuom and Sankore. It states, among others, that the district was short of body protectors. While I leave that to hang, I can only state that if my family were litigious, a writ would have been issued against the Police Service for negligence and manslaughter. However, no purpose will be served as that action will not bring our son back to life.
Mr IGP, how much does one body protector cost? I have seen new police posts established in some of the most isolated places on highways. Apart from their dark uniform, the young junior officers who man these posts wear nothing other than reflective vests. Would a senior officer go on such duty in the night without body protection? The chances are that next year, when the ceremony to honour the fallen heroes is due, a lot more names of junior officers will have been added on the cenotaph and they will all be victims of bullet wounds!
The Police Service should not only relish tolling for the brave and sounding the Last Post. If the Police Command will do its duty of protecting its junior officers, all this official public display of honour and grief will not be necessary.