Police is considering evicting crime preventers from its posts and police stations for acting contrary to what they are supposed to be doing. Police established the crime preventer's forum in 2013 as part of its community policing program.
The crime preventers were expected to detect and report crime to police for action. However, police political commissar Asan Kasingye says some of the crime preventers are now involved in criminality such as theft, extortion, murder among others. Earlier this year in March, President Yoweri Museveni said crime preventers, mostly seen by many as sacked inspector general of police Gen Kale Kayihura's 'project', were now a reserve force.
Kasingye said the crime preventers, leave their homes and park their motorcycles at the nearest police station before they storm neighbouring villages to engage in crime, something which cannot be tolerated under the new police leadership of inspector general of police (IGP) Martin Okoth Ochola.
Last month, police commanders at different police stations across the country were ordered to start recovering all police property in the hands of crime preventers. These include among others office furniture, T-shirts, computers, laptops and motorcycles. The property was given to the crime preventers by Kayihura to facilitate their work.
Kayihura reportedly favoured the crime preventers and gave them lucrative procurement deals in the force. Kayihura used the crime preventers to spy on his officers, which created hatred among the two groups. Police records indicate that there are more than 11 million crime preventers under the leadership of Crime Preventers Association of Uganda
"We’re starting a new chapter. We don’t want to hear officers dressed in a police uniform being called criminals, fraudsters, kifeesi [thugs). But to achieve that we need to work together with the community." Kasingye said.
Kasingye said this while representing IGP Ochola during a community engagement in Kisenyi, a Kampala suburb to address unemployment challenges as well as preventing conflicts in marginalised communities in urban slums. Kasingye said police is determined to open a new chapter and redeem its tainted image.
He asked the youth in the area to be law abiding. He cited the example of Kyadondo East MP Robert Kyagulanyi popularly known as Bobi Wine, who, emerged from similar ghetto set up circumstances through legitimate channels to rise to fame.
"My friend Bobi Wine who is now on everyone’s lips, let us be honest, Bobi Wine is a big influence but he did not become a celebrity through criminality. He is an inspiration, many others can be like him."
Kasingye said that Kisenyi is a known hub for drug abuse and other forms of criminality that is why police was reaching out to the community there. However, Bleshious Katumba, a resident of the area blames the extremism in the area on the violent approach by the police force.
"Violence cannot handle violence, you understand? Peace is the only solution for war, you can never finish a war with war. You can never…We really need the police to calm down, understand the youth, try to think like them because violence is the key factor demoralising thing killing the youth." he said.
Most of the residents faulted police for failing in its responsibility, which they said fuels violence in slums. Elizabeth Lukwago, a resident of Kisenyi said police has visited their area on numerous occasions with promises of improving the security situation but nothing is implemented.
The engagement was part of the programs being implemented by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) with support from the European Union to empower youths in slums.