Uganda Police Not as Ugly as Portrayed

The Police Professional Standards Unit is currently trying 9 officers involved in brutality

By: Davidson Ndyabahika

The Uganda Police Force (UPF) recent actions where a section of men and women in uniform assisted by some without Uniform were caught on camera wielding sticks and clobbering people supposedly supporters of the former Forum for Democratic (FDC) presidential candidate Col. Dr. Kizza Besigye were a horrible an incident, stomach indeed that I personally felt betrayed through actions by these men.

It is regrettable indeed that they did what they did and I pray the responsible organs can handle the issue amicably to have all officers involved brought to book.

As a young patriotic youth, viagra 60mg I believe in a school of thought that there is no perfect person, institution, or government on the planet. Although nothing excuses specific acts of police brutality, especially in the recent clobbering case, not enough attention is being paid to the emotional and psychological challenges of being a cop.

It all depends on the perceptions we create around us. I want to believe that these men and women before they are brought to operate in people have undergone thorough training and therefore are highly skilled on how to handle issues of citizens.

Just like every profession is dissatisfied with its portrayal in the media – because it’s difficult to show the intricacies of a multifaceted and complex profession in a cursory manner such as television and other traditional forms of Communication.

The police are no different. Though importantly they should invest more in their communication to improve their image.

I recently saw images of Uganda Police buses and trucks carrying Ugandans who were being evacuated from the war torn South Sudan, I am reliably told that over 8,000 were evacuated. It was heroic and a daring act of our Ugandan forces worth celebrating in Uganda.

If Israelites can commemorate a July 4, 1976, 35 minute Entebbe raid where 45 of our innocent Ugandan soldiers died on trying to protect the sovereignty of our country and just 102 Israelites hostages were rescued and they pride themselves on this successful mission why can’t Ugandans boast and applaud patriotic men in uniform who severally sacrifice their time, families, to serve the nation and have peace utmost in all parts of the country?

It is all too easy to forget the heroic acts daily performed by police officers across the country while in the line of duty.

In a few days back, Inspector of Police Mr. Deo Kweyamba, the Officer-in-Charge of Traffic Lukaya Police Station who was on duty perished in a nasty road accident.

While guiding traffic at an accident scene, he got knocked by speeding Fuso truck registration number UAT 262T carrying cement and died on spot. To me that is a hero and we must not at all times politicize police issues.

I am aware there are some issues that must be handled like yesterday about Uganda police however, that is not to say that the institution is that bad to deserve these social media nomenclature of “Ghosts, Kifeesi” etc. Such names are from individuals who are ill guided and misinformed of the true roles and services of Uganda Police.

The police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.

Therefore this should inform all decisions made by our Uganda officers both in uniform and those who are not in uniform to always be conscious of their allegiance to serve and protect Ugandans.

My heroes are those who risk their lives every day to protect our country and make it a better place – police, intelligence arms and members of our armed forces. I call them heroes because they are ordinary people facing extraordinary circumstances and acting with courage, honor and self-sacrifice.

Given the poor housing conditions, meager salaries and generally with poor standards of living, to find they can with true allegiance stand all amounts of abuses from civilians without getting out of their senses and incidentally starting turning against people, its indeed a credit that every Ugandan Citizen should applaud.

Yes, we might be yearning for one of the professional, skilled forces in our country but this comes with a sacrifice. Please learn to understand their emotions. They are humans and once confronted and pressed against the wall, they can also be psychologically tormented and their response sometimes is not good.

I have through numerous interactions with police officers learnt that there an amazing variety of police officers even compared to other professions. Most of them are contentious and looking at many especially intelligence guys are smart and brilliant.

These officers spend most of their time in the chaotic and depressing nether-reaches of society that is bursting up domestic violence disputes, coming upon fatal car crashes, managing conflicts both large and small and also dealing with drunks and drug addicts.

Experiencing such moments of intense action and alertness, followed by emotional crushes marked by exhaustion and isolation, our Uganda police officers sometimes become hyper vigilant. Such an environment of being surrounded by crime every day, some Police officers perceive society as more threatening than it is.

In general fellow Ugandans, at the core of police profession lies the central problem of political philosophy.

The fundamental questions about the state, government, politics, liberty, justice and the enforcement of a legal code by authority.

How does the state/police preserve order through coercion? When should police use overwhelming force to control law breaking? When is it wiser for police to step back and use patience and understanding to defuse a situation? How does a police officer make this decision instantaneously, when testosterone is flowing, when fear is in the air, when someone is disrespecting him/her and they feel indignation rising in the gut?

Police brutality has to be punished and MUST be condemned in strongest terms. But respect has to be paid. Police serve by walking that hazardous line where civilization meets disorder.

At this critical time, the Police and the Inspector General of Police Gen. Kale Kayihura in particular must employ Sun Tzu’s key principles in his Art of War master piece. Know your enemy and know your allies.

Today, I believe, Uganda police’s allies would be citizens. Therefore it will be very important for Uganda police to steer efforts in community policing do as to bind police forces with the citizenry.

What is essential in war is victory, not prolonged operations; treat your men as you would your own beloved sons. And they will follow you into the deepest valley. Attacking an individual will not work out our way, we need to appreciate the efforts of the police forces much as we should not tire constructive criticism.

The writer is a journalist, also former Guild Information Minister at Makerere University


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