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The good cop catches thieves and robbers all the time and keeps the peace with admirable professional gallantry. The bad cop extorts bribes from the public all the time and keeps the now hackneyed policeman’s chant of the highway perpetually at top pitch: 

Where is your driver’s license, reflective warning triangle, fire extinguisher, first aid box? Corporal, quick, process this man for court. There is no butazulogen in his first aid box! Hey, what is butazulogen officer? You will find out in court. Alright officer, as one small favour in return for another, please take…

A reporter with a concealed fairy video camera could have gotten them kicked out of the police service in 24 hours flat.  I am referring to three rifle-toting policemen in camouflage uniform who packed their pickup outside a street side pub and piled in to quaff down a couple of pints. Believe me, Jomo, it was only a few minutes after 9.00 o’clock in the morning!

They were young cops apparently about to embark upon an operation or go on a highway patrol and a video of them knocking back foaming glasses of booze while in uniform and so early in the morning, would have made Commander… madder than a farm bull stank by wasps.

They probably have families to take care of and an abrupt end to their career would have impacted badly on their families’ livelihood and welfare. There is the investigative reporter's occasional dilemma.

Amid the ever-worsening road fatality statistics, a now familiar news headline jumped out at us from the pages of newspapers for the umpteenth time last week: “Police to clamp down on reckless drivers.” To the good cop, this means a renewed resolve to save lives by getting bad motor vehicles and bad motorists off the roads.

To the other type of cop, it is a notice to the motorist to make sure that he always  hits the road with a wallet stuffed to a generous bulge with cedi notes and be psychologically conditioned to stop every millimeter of the road, since a normal 20-minute journey might now last a couple of crawling centuries.

Sometimes it is difficult to determine which of the two categories of cops some police officers fall under: Good cop and bad cop. 

One day not long ago, some cops who had set up a  road checkpoint. A very big government man came driving by and the cops stopped him and asked why he was trying to fly a motor vehicle instead of driving it on the asphalt like everyone else, whereupon , the big man proceeded to throw a bit of executive weight around, questioning the propriety of the police officers’ mode of operation and demanding to know if they knew who he was.

One of the cops  retorted that the big man was “a stupid man”, whereupon, the big man whipped out his cell phone and called the Inspector General of Police  and reported the offensive conduct of the cops. 

The way some media reported the incident is a reminder to the public that what they read and hear in the news is actually information coming from sources and not from the news reporters themselves. It is very rare to have cases where news reporters report news as eye witnesses.

Some of what news reporters tell us is often what they are told by spokesmen for various institutions and persons. In the case of the police, it is usually the public relations officer who was himself not an eye witness.

One news medium apparently quoting from its sources reported that “when asked if he was aware that his manner of driving posed a danger to other motorists, the government big man is said to have questioned the authority of the police to stop him.”

The news medium then went on to report a purported piece of dialogue during the altercation: “Do you know who I am?” he { government big man} asked.

“No, but we are just doing our job and you happen to have flouted a road regulation so “park well” since you stopped in the middle of the road,” one of the Motor Traffic and Transport Unit officers replied.

Since there was no reporter at the scene the verbatim quotation of what transpired is as strange as reporting sometimes comes these days.

No one is above the law and certainly not one who is claimed by the police, to have driven in such a manner as to have threatened the safety of other road users. 

The charge of dangerous driving is a very grave one and yet it is also the lest enforced of all the traffic laws? A motorist convicted of dangerous driving does not have the benefit of an option of a fine but is sent to the cooler.

That probably explains why the charge of dangerous driving is rarely preferred against motorists by good and bad cops alike!

Yet dangerous driving is a major cause of deaths on the roads: Flying motor vehicles over the asphalt instead of driving them like motor cars, triple jumping the red light, taking unauthorized u-turns, tearing round bends like demons fleeing the torment of hell etc.

One of the eight alleged  to be the officer who called the government big man “stupid”, was interdicted by the police administration.  There was a catch in this disciplinary action: Sanction the police officers on the basis of the government big man’s complaint, and you could demoralize other traffic cops on the highways and render an already very precarious road safety situation worse.

Ignore the minister's complaint of insulting conduct on the part of the cops and what many people have been complaining of will fester in the conduct of the police: Many people complain that police personnel are generally hostile and uncivil in their interactions with suspects and offenders.

The incident brings up the question of whether the police administration would have acted with such dispatch had the victim of the alleged insult by the cop been Kofi Jack the junior clerk at the district labour office.

Some motorists have also complained that police officers on the highways sometimes very deliberately and falsely accuse them of going beyond speed limits, with the aim of extorting money from them.

Then there is the question of why as many as eight policemen should congregate at one road block in a country where the Police Service is so grossly under-manned, that you won’t find a single cop around when there is absolute chaos in motor traffic or undisciplined citizens are breaking laws all over the place like dry twigs.