The Inspector General of Police (IGP), Okoth Ochola has warned police officers against brutalizing members of the public which he said risks distancing the Force from Ugandans.
He stressed that the only way that officers of the Uganda Police Force can win back the trust of the public is by conducting themselves professionally.
The IGP was Friday addressing Police regional staff of Wamala at Mityana. In the region, Ochola was welcomed by the Regional Police Commander, ACP Phillip Acaye and his team.
His visit was aimed at interacting with police officers and to appreciate the status of policing in the region.
“The public will give respect to the police only when the institution conducts itself in a professional manner,” the IGP told officers.
“Brutalizing the citizenry instead causes the public to distance themselves from the police, those who torture members of the public, torture is not condoned by any member of the police leadership,” he added.
He cited attributes of a professional as the existence of a chain of command in the institution, the outlook of an officer, the way officers respond to complaints from society, customer care, and the way officers interact with the public.
“We shall not accept criminal conduct , therefore its everyone’s duty to win back the trust of the public whose confidence in the Police was eroded long ago,” he said.
Ochola, previously a deputy to former IGP, Gen Kale Kayihura took over office after the sacking of Kayihura earlier this year. He assumed office at a time when the Police Force was grappling with unresolved crimes, a diminishing public trust and collusion of some senior officers with criminal elements among other problems.
Upon his appointment as IGP, Ochola embarked on a mass exercise of reshuffling officers at all levels as well as making major adjustments in the structures of Police. All this, observers have said, aimed at cleaning up Police.
On Friday, he said that “there is need to improve on the disciplinary mechanisms in the institution to prevent an escalation of indiscipline in the Force”.
Only recently, he issued fresh guidelines for officers aimed at eliminating cases of arbitrary arrests and abuse of rights of suspects.
But despite these reforms, Ochola’s administration hasn’t been without criticism. Just a week ago, he was at the receiving end of condemnation after he stopped a planned demonstration in Kampala by a group of activists seeking to protest the kidnappings and murders of women and children.
Many viewed the actions of the IGP as undermining Constitutional rights of expression and assembly. But Police later granted permission for the protest, a day to the demonstration after the intervention of the Minister of Internal Affairs.