The issue: Sleeping officers
Our view: While the community wants policemen awake while on duty, they also want policemen who are well taken care of by the police institution so that they are able to do their job properly.
Last Friday, eight police officers were arrested after they had fallen asleep while on duty at their posts. The policemen were arrested during a night operation led by Kampala Metropolitan south regional police commander Siraje Bakaleke.
Related: Eight policemen arrested over sleeping on duty
Mr Bakaleke, according to the story titled, ‘8 policemen arrested over neglect of duty’, which run in yesterday’s edition of Daily Monitor, made a patrol in Kampala and Entebbe, where he said he was visiting different police posts. The suspects, he says, face charges of neglect of duty.
The police, as we all know, are trained and paid to keep law and order in the land, throughout the night and day. Communities depend on them to help weed out criminal elements.
They also depend on the Force to come to their rescue when they are being attacked by thieves, when there are disputes over land or property, where there is domestic violence and many other such incidences.
As we have seen with the spate of different crimes waves, many attacks, including robbery and rape, happen mostly under the cover of the night. It is, therefore, important that the police remain alert and ready to take action when a call for help is made at the quiet hour of 2am. This is likely why Mr Bakaleke was upset with his men who were asleep at such a crucial time.
The eight who were arrested need to answer why they were not keeping guard at that time because they were exposing themselves rather gravely.
They could have easily been attacked, their posts robbed and worse, shot at.
Also, should someone have come calling for help, they would have been slow to respond, giving criminals time to escape. It is, therefore, in order that Mr Bakaleke questions them over their actions.
However, we hope that as he does so, he will look at the circumstances surrounding what happened. Were these policemen working overtime? Had they had sufficient rest before taking over?
Had they been on duty for long hours? Had they been provided what they need such as a meal to be able to keep awake and alert? Have their supervisors been asked about why their juniors were asleep on the job?
The interrogations should include all these questions so that a fair judgment is made. While the community wants policemen awake while on duty, they also want policemen who are taken care of well by the police institution so that they are able to do their job properly.