The Inspector-General of Police, John Martins Okoth Ochola has warned police commanders to always be level headed but above all act humanely while carrying out operations and policing work.
Ochola’s warning was contained in the manual on how to use guns and control riots that was released on Thursday following a directive by President Museveni last month.
“Commanders and all deployed personnel should keep emotions under control and must act humanely. All police officers shall as much as possible apply non-violent means before resorting to the sue of force,” Ochola said in the newly released manual.
On a number of occasions, police officers have run riot beating members of the public as well as firing teargas indiscriminately without first assessing the situation and on many occasions a number of people have either died or injured and property destroyed in the scuffles.
However, according to the police chief, officers should always aim at the protection and preservation of human life, property and human dignity.
The Police Act said if a person forcibly resists or attempts to evade the arrest, the police officer or other person making the arrest may use all means necessary to effect it.
The same thing happens when rioters or demonstrators refuse to heed to calls by police to call off the demonstration.
According to the latest manual by the police chief, before using force, there should be diplomacy, verbal engagement and negotiation by police officers and rioters or demonstrators.
“There must be issuance of a warning and if circumstances permit, the officer will identify self. The police officer will give a warning that if the offenders don’t peacefully surrender, force is to be used,”Ochola says.
“In cases where the threat to life is already imminent and there is no other option but use of force to subdue the offender, failure by the officer to issue a warning is justified.”
The manual stipulates that only necessary and reasonable force should be applied and should be sufficient to overcome resistance put up by the offenders and to subdue the clear and imminent danger posed by the offender.
The police chief says there must be firing of warning shots not aimed at persons, if shooting is inevitable, the shots must be aimed at trouble causers and done by selected marksmen well conscious of innocent bystanders and avoiding collateral damage.
The manual says that lethal force is only authorized for use when one reasonably believes a lesser degree force would be insufficient to perform the duty or in case of self defence or defence of other persons if there is reasonable cause to believe there is imminent danger of death or great bodily harm.
Ochola however warns that a moving vehicle shall not be fired upon except when its occupants pose an imminent danger of causing death or injury to the police officer or any other person and the use of the firearm will not create danger to the public.
President Museveni last month directed the Inspector General of Police to issue a manual that will guide the security personnel on the proper use of firearms and how to disperse gatherings in accordance with the Public Order Management Act.
He explained that any form of shooting must be on command and not by individual security personnel letting off guns whereas standing orders for riot control, he said should begin with diplomacy which includes telling rioters to disperse.
The release of the manual comes at a time when the country is entering the political season where confrontations between the public and police are expected to increase following the electoral commission guidelines that banned mass rallies and processions.
A number of incidents of police firing teargas to disperse crowds and arrest of supporters of candidates who allegedly violate the election guidelines are expected to occur and police will be on the receiving end of condemnations from several members of the public.
The manual will therefore help to address the issue of misbehavior by police officers and in case of any incident, commanders will be held accountable basing on the guidance from the manual.