The Ghana Police Service has taken delivery of 250 body cameras to be used by its personnel. This is the first batch of 3,000 pieces expected to be delivered by the close of this year as part of efforts to enhance police transparency and accountability.
Police body cameras are small-lensed devices, often worn on an officer’s chest to capture images. It has a microphone to record sounds and internal storage for data or footage for later review and analysis.
As part of the consignment delivered to the police are 4,500 body armour, ballistic helmets and riot control gadgets.
Six armoured vehicles, each with the capacity to carry 10 personnel for police operations, have also arrived at the Tema Port.
The equipment and vehicles constitute part of a GH¢800 million retooling budget for the Ghana Police Service, announced by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo in his State of the Nation Address on February 8, 2018.
In an interview with the Daily Graphic, the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mr David Asante-Apeatu, said the use of the gadgets would help the police a great deal.
He said it would take away the issues of misconduct by personnel that would otherwise have taken supervisors to discover.
According to him, before a police officer was issued with a body camera, it would be tested to ensure that the sound, camera and recording functions were working.
“If you return from the field and cannot produce a report from your operation from the body camera, you will have to answer,” he said.
He said it would be in the interest of police officers to use the cameras because if a case was reported against an officer during an operation or exercise but there was no recording to back it, that officer would certainly be in trouble.
He explained that apart from recording events, the body cameras would be internet-operated and connected to the Police Command Centre where events and images would be transmitted live.
Mr Asante-Apeatu said in an area where there was no Internet connection, the cameras would record and be played back.
He said the Police Administration would be taking delivery of more of such modern equipment in the coming months.
The Director-General in charge of Services, Commissioner of Police (COP) Mr Alex Amponsah-Asiamah, had earlier conducted the Daily Graphic round the warehouse where the gadgets had been kept.
He said personnel would now be trained on the use of the cameras before their deployment.
Although the 250 body cameras are inadequate, he was hopeful that the arrival of the remaining pieces by the end of the year would go a long way to help deal with the issue of enhancing police transparency and accountability.
Mr Amponsah-Asiamah explained that the decision to use the body cameras formed part of the police transformation agenda to enhance public confidence in the service.
He added that the deployment of the body cameras would be handled by the Directorate of Operations of the Ghana Police Service.
Two major incidents in March this year attracted a backlash on the police regarding their lack of accountability.
In the first instance, a policeman allegedly assaulted three journalists from Ghanaian Times. The officer allegedly seized the mobile phone one of the reporters was using to record a traffic offence involving him (the police officer).
In the second case, a driver and his mate were captured in a viral video assaulting another police officer.
Members of the public wondered what might have triggered the incident since the video only captured the assault.
On the acquisition of body armour and nose masks for personnel, Mr Amponsah-Asiamah said they would go a long way to protect those who would be sent to conflict zones and other violent areas.
Those on such operations, he added, would be transported by armoured vehicles.
The Daily Graphic in its March 21, 2019, edition, reported on the plans by the Police Administration to deploy body cameras as part of efforts to enhance police transparency and accountability.