In January of 2007, Drs. Gordon and Angela Crews traveled with their graduate assistant, Mr. Kofi Annor Boye-Doe, and Ghanaian Fulbright Scholar, Mr. Ken Aikins, to Ghana, West Africa, in order to conduct a research study. The original research plan was to conduct a three part examination of: 1) the blend of indigenous government (rooted in religious practices and strongly associated with spirituality and mysticism) and state government in the Ghanaian justice system; 2) the treatment of women and children within these systems; and 3) the alternative dispute resolution, restorative justice, and conflict resolution strategies within the two systems.
During this trip, the researchers met with Commissioner of Police Mr. George Asiamah (who has become the driving force for the current Community Policing initiative in Ghana), other officials from the Ghana Police Service (GPS), faculty of the University of Ghana Legon and the University of Cape Coast. In the course of these meetings, the Crews’ became better informed about the practice of justice in the country and some immediate law enforcement needs related to the development of the nation, specifically the dire need for training in “community” and “intelligence-led” policing.
Citizens in Ghanaian society (as well as citizens in most sub-Saharan African countries) do not trust the police, preferring to rely instead on “magico-religious” forces and traditional authority figures to settle disputes (Abotchie, 2002). When circumstances do reach severity levels such that citizens are forced to contact law enforcement, the police role is circumscribed as reactive. Unfortunately, this tends to reinforce the perception of citizens that police only exist to take away the “bad guys.” Ghana’s police force has a tradition of being used as a militaristic tool of oppression and this history, unfortunately, remains entrenched in the collective social conscience.
Crews, G. A., & Crews, A. (2009). Interview with Commissioner of Police George Asiamah, Ghana National Police Service Interviewed by Gordon A. Crews and Angela D. Crews. In Trends in Policing: Interviews with Police Leaders Across the Globe (pp. 91–107). Routledge. https://doi.org/10.1201/9781420075212
Trends in Policing: Interviews with Police Leaders Across the Globe