Following President Museveni’s directive, Police unveiled what they termed as a master plan that would help them break the back of the several criminal gangs terrorising most parts of the greater Kampala Metropolitan Area.
The Kampala Metropolitan Area includes districts of Kampala, Wakiso and Mukono and have been ravaged by rampant crimes orchestrated by gangs operating almost in a similar fashion.
Earlier, Museveni had said the rampant crimes where perpetrators used mostly iron bars, machetes and guns to terrorise residents had been brought to his attention. He asked police to come up with a plan to combat the criminals whom he described as not being sophisticated.
The President had in 2018 rolled out a 12-point security plan to end the menace of assassination, rising gun violence and other crimes, particularly in urban areas and these included citizens’ vigilance, quick coordination with police, police use of radio calls, deployment of LDUs, prioritising public intelligence, gun fingerprinting, CCTV cameras and purging criminals in police among others.
According to the Deputy Inspector General of Police, Maj. Gen.Muzeeyi Sabiiti, the new master plan will combine the 12 point action plan by Museveni.
“This reviewed plan sits within the 12 wider measures announced last year by the President. I want to report that a lot of strides have been made in this regard, including the aspects of installation of cameras, fingerprinting of firearms, improving the police forensics capacity, as well as improving the Crime Intelligence and Criminal Investigations Directorates, all of which are ongoing,” Maj. Gen.Muzeeyi Sabiiti said.
The new plan will encourage members of the public to call directly the police post or stations’ counters to report crime incidents for immediate response or deliver text messages or whats app messages on 0707114114 which directly goes to the deputy IGP’s office.
All these measures have been in existence but according to AIGP Asan Kasingye, the Chief Political Commissar of the Police Force, something was not being done right.
He notes that for example, as they emphasised the use of the 999 and 911 numbers by the public to report crime incidents in their areas, the same was not effective.
“One would call the 999 number and the call had to first go to the Police Station or Police Post and the officer on the operation centre has to call the nearby Police patrol vehicle to respond to the event. Many a time the patrols would be far way and by the time the return, criminals have finished their mission,”Kasingye says.
He says that in other insistences, a person would call the 999 police number from upcountry districts and the call had to first come to Kampala, before operation centre calls the respective areas for quick intervention which was bureaucratic.
“On many occasions, people calling telecom companies’ customer care lines would have their calls come to the 999 police system call centre. It created chaos and jam on our 999 system whereas sometimes the network was off.”
He says that they are working to ensure the 999 system is made in a way that if a person calls the number, the call only ends in their respective area for handling the matter, other than coming to their operational centre in Kampala.
For example, a person from Mukono calls the 999, officers in charge of that system in the area are the ones to pick and respond to the incident.
Makes case for new system
According to the new system, members of the public are given counter numbers for the various police posts and stations in their respective areas to call in case of any incident.
“There is always a specific officer to pick the call made on the counter number and relays the message to the standby response team and proceeds to the area where the incident happened immediately,”Kasingye says.
“With the new system, there is a provision that if one calls the counter number and the call is not being picked, they can call or send a message to the office of the Deputy Inspector General of Police who would send a team to respond immediately.”
Respond crime incidents in 5 minutes
Despite deployment of both Local Defence Unit personnel and police officers to man the city’s security, crimes have continued and many have attributed it to poor response in case of security incidents.
An example is the Nagirinya kidnap and subsequent murder incident in which despot being asked to help track the killers using CCTV cameras, police officers never bothered.
Harriet Nakyejwe, Nagirinya’s elder sister last week told the police disciplinary court that on the fateful night, they were stopped from accessing Nateete police station with their vehicle but on entering, they were told the CCTV cameras were not working.
“We followed the instructions and parked outside the police station. When we asked the police officers to help us check the CCTV cameras one of them who was seated leaning against the chair with his legs crossed and put on top of another chair told us the cameras were not working,”Nakyejwe told the police disciplinary court.
“The officer also told us the case was not supposed to be handled by Nateete Police station and told us to go to Katwe.”
Such slow response from police officers has cost many people’s lives in circumstances of crime in various parts of the city.
According to the Police’s Chief Political Commissar, the police would take 15 minutes within which to reach an area in response to a crime incident but this was not helping.
“Within the 15 minutes, the criminals will have finished their mission and taken off. We are trying to improve the time to only five minutes. In the five minutes, if police officers are called by affected residents on the counter line, they can respond and be able to apprehend the criminals,”Kasingye says.
He adds, “Criminals operate successfully because they know they can’t be caught when police takes long to respond to incidents. We want to change this so that officers arrive in time.”
According to the master plan, police will ensure a more robust and dedicated prosecution and judicial set up to help handle cases.
In the past, security has been lambasting the judiciary for releasing or giving lenient sentences to the criminals who later resurface to terrorise the public.
The Internal Security Organisation Director-General, Col.Kaka Bagyenda recently said it is appalling for criminals to be arrested but released in a few days by courts of law.
He said between 2017 and 2018,they initiated an operation code-named “Dumisha Usalaama” in which over 400 criminals were arrested but noted that six months later, 80 percent of these people(criminals) had returned to the streets to terrorise the public.
“I said, we could not sit like clowns and watch this happen. We built intelligence positions on these groups and started harvesting the cream or hardcore criminals but at the same had to protect our assets(who gave us information about the criminals),”Col. Kaka said, adding that they resorted to keeping the criminals in safe houses so they don’t return to the streets to terrorise the public.
Police records show that that a big percentage of crimes are committed by repeat offenders who have been arrested and jailed but return to pick from where they ended.
The judiciary has in a number of cases accused police of doing a shoddy work when it comes to investigations and this they(judiciary) forces them to acquit suspects.
According to Kasingye, they would ensure quick and thorough investigations into cases so that suspects are sent to jail.
“The problem has been that even if you report a case, some officers would ask for money so as to have the case investigated. Many people would no longer report to Police. Now we want to emphasise that each case is investigated thoroughly and within a specified period of time,”Kasingye says.
“Another reason for crime to continue is when criminals will not be caught or if caught there will be no incriminating evidence against them in courts of law. We must improve in the area of investigation.”
The police Chief Political Commissar says the goal can only be achieved if the public assists them .