By Richard Musaazi
The message sent to police through arming them with military equipment is that they are in fact at war.
The killing of more 54 people by Uganda police on 18 and 19 of November 2020 left parts of Ugandan cities looking like battle zones. What is clear from the police is that despite our efforts to promote de-escalation through our articles, police culture appears to be stuck in an “us vs. them” mentality.
Setting up the enemy
I have observed the militarization of the police firsthand, especially in times of confrontation.
Police culture tends to privilege the use of violent tactics and nonnegotiable force over compromise, mediation, and peaceful conflict resolution. It reinforces a general acceptance among officers of the use of any and all means of force available when confronted with real or perceived threats.
The police have deployed a militarized response to what they accurately or inaccurately believe to be a threat to public order, private property, and their own safety. It is partly because of a policing culture in which protesters are often perceived as ‘’enemy’’ Indeed, teaching Uganda police to think like solders and learn how to kill has been part of a training program popular among some police officers.
Police militarization, the process in which law enforcement agencies have increased their arsenal of weapons and equipment to be deployed in an array of situations, began in 1986.Critics of this process have suggested that the message sent to police through equipping them with military equipment is that they are in fact at war. This to me implies that there needs to be ‘’an enemy’’ In cities and, increasingly, suburban and rural areas, the enemy is often those “others” who are perceived to be criminally inclined. The consequences of this militarized police mentality can be deadly, especially for opposition leaders and their supporters.
My personal view
“Violent encounters with police produce a strong ripple effect of diminishing the health and well-being of residents who simply live in areas where their neighbours are killed, hurt, or psychologically traumatized.”
There’s a need to implement training and policies that “emphasize de-escalation.” I also believe police should use tactics during protests “designed to minimize the appearance of a military operation and avoid using provocative tactics and equipment that undermine civilian trust.”
By the evidence of the last few weeks especially during 2021 campaign, Uganda police and the military have failed to heed the message.
Richard Musaazi – Private Investigator
Rpi forensics – youtube channel