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Review: Ochola’s One Year At The Helm Of Uganda Police Force

The Inspector General of police J.M Okoth Ochola will this week make one year at the helm of the law enforcement body as its commander since taking over from his predecessor Gen. Kale Kayihura.

Last year, the Commander in Chief Armed Forces President Yoweri Museveni relieved General Kayihura of his duties as IGP and replaced him with Mr Okoth Ochola in a shakeup in which the then security minister Gen. Henry Tumukunde was also fired.

In the shakeup, President Museveni appointed Maj.Gen Sabitti Muzeeyi  as the Deputy Inspector General of Police from military police.

In a review, chimpreports crimes and investigations desk highlights Mr Ochola’s accomplishments of the year since taking over office on 16th March 2018.

Disbandment of multiple police units: Immediately after taking office, the newly appointed inspector general disbanded up to 19 police investigations units.

The disbanded units prominent being special operations unit (SOP), special investigations unit(SIU), crime intelligence and investigations department (CIID) were all reverted to the directorate of Crime Investigations in Kibuli.

Authorities said that the move by the new inspector general was aimed at strengthening and reenergizing the criminal investigations directorate that had lagged behind at the moment.

Relatedly, On 8th May 2018, the freshly appointed Police boss took a decision to disband police’s Flying Squad Unit (FSU).

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Police said that the decision was taken without much consultations with the nine police policy members,  because the unit had allegedly created much taint on the image of the law enforcement agency.

It was established that the action by Mr Ochola was due to mounting allegations of gross misconduct and torture of suspects by the flying squad unit.

He replaced the unit that cracks down on violent criminals with a new elite squad dubbed organized crime unit comprised of sharp shooters under the command of Mr Kakonge.

Eleven months back, the new IGP ordered for the dreaded Nalufenya Detention facility to be closed permanently.

For long, the police station turned a high profile security facility was used as a unit for special operations, investigations and custody for high profile criminals.

However, the facility had become synonymous with torture and other forms of inhumane treatment of suspects hence tainting the police image.

In his first month in office, Mr Ochola released a message directing  the directorate of Logistics and Engineering to transform Nalufenya back to a police station.

The suspects that were held at the facility at the time were transferred to Luzira prison as others were arraigned in courts of law.

 New Strict Arresting Guidelines

In a bid to reduce on the unwarranted arrests that had become rampant across the country and raising tensions of kidnap in the public, IGP issued strict guidelines to police officers and operatives while effecting arrest of criminal suspects.

The new IGP ordered his men to always be equipped with arrest warrants pertaining the offenses of which the suspects are being arrested for.

Ochola also asked police operatives to inform suspects of their rights of seeking legal redress from their lawyers before effecting arrests and detention.

The guidelines have however reduced on the contradictions between police and other security agencies hence, a smooth co-existence and cooperation.

Nation Wide Police Telephone Lines

Amongst the new security strategies, IGP Ochola rolled out nationwide telephone numbers in all police stations and posts.

According the him, the new security development was a response to the public outcry that police is reluctant in responding to insecurity incidents.

“Uganda Police Force has set up fixed counter telephones in all Police stations and posts throughout Kampala Metropolitan Policing Area,” Ochola revealed to journalists.

Beyond Kampala, Ochola general disclosed that police installed at least a 24/7 hour operating line at every district main police station as the process carries on.

He argued that the purpose of the lines is to make members of the public access police services in case of need.

He added that the new security strategy is a police-public communication plan aimed at fighting crime through rapid response.

Recently, police spokesperson Fred Enanga told journalists that at least the public is progressively placing calls to their nearby police stations and that 999 police patrol unit responded to over 250 emergency calls.

Installation Of Anti-Crime Infrastructure

Under the new leadership, the law enforcement agency has put in place new measures to curb crime both internally and externally.

Last week, the Deputy Inspector General of Police Maj Gen Sabitti Muzeeyi revealed that the agency has finalized with the process of finger printing of all police fire arms and ammunition.

He said this is aimed at curbing misuse of police arms as easy track down in case used in committing crime.

He said that forensic features of all police guns have been recorded down and their handlers also noted.

Most notable in the anti-crime infrastructure is the installation of national police security cameras.

Recently, Chinese Company Huawei and Uganda Police intensified installation of closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras in major urban centres, key road junctions and highways of Kampala to strengthen security surveillance efforts.

According to police authorities, the first batch of 900 CCTV cameras under the Uganda Police National CCTV Network Expansion Project have been installed in strategic locations around Kampala Metropolitan Area.

President Museveni recently also commissioned the temporary camera command center at Natete police station

The first batch of the 5,552 CCTV cameras prepared for the nationwide system which were delivered by Huawei, a Chinese firm among which 3,233 are already slated for Kampala Metropolitan Area.

Different teams involving Police IT and Huawei experts recently began works of laying fibre cables which have so far seen over 81 kilometers covered.

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