Police officers have expressed how low pay, poor living conditions and the fight for survival, has driven them into seeking and receiving bribes from the public
By Betty Amamukirori
Police officers have expressed how low pay, poor living conditions and the fight for survival, has driven them into seeking and receiving bribes from the public.
While answering a question from trainers from Transparency International, about the risk factors that drive them into bribery, some of the police officers who later preferred anonymity said that the peanuts they earn cannot sustain them, thereby forcing them into succumbing to temptations from criminals.
“The need to acquire basic needs and the poor saving culture where officers spend all they earn without saving, has made some officers to accept bribes,” said Moses Kafeero, the commandant of police Staff College.
Deputy Inspector General of police Okoth Ochola (L) interacting with Executive Director Transparency Uganda Peter Wandera and the Senior advisor Transparency International UK Stewart Eldon during the police workshop on transparency by Transparency International at silver springs hotel Kampala on 11/23/2015. Photo by Godiver Asege
“Imagine a police officer investigating a high profile case, walking on foot to the scene of crime and then while there the culprit presents him with a life changing bribe. What do you do in that case?” another officer who preferred anonymity made a rhetoric remark.
The officers said their welfare is not taken care of though they are the ones who do the donkey work of investigating corruption crimes yet their counterparts, the state attorneys who do the lighter work are well taken care of.
They were reacting to the 2014, East African bribery index published by Transparency International (TI) Uganda, a non-state organization that advocates for zero tolerance to corruption. In the index report, the Uganda police was ranked as the most corrupt institution in Uganda.
This report was tabled by TI officials from the United Kingdom, Hiruy Gossaye, project officer and Stewart Eldon, senior advisor, who had come to train the officers on how to fight corruption, yesterday at Silver Springs Hotel.
However, some of the officers said that some people are naturally corrupt. The vice only surfaces when they join the force because they, as part of their duty, oftenly interface with the public.
They also cited peer pressure as one of the leading factors driving them into corruption. “We tend to copy and compete with the people we graduated with in the same year but are well off, forcing us to leave beyond our reach.”
Ochola Okoth, the Deputy Inspector General of Police said that there is a general public perception that the police are corrupt, even when they are the ones championing the fight against corruption.
“The police image has been tainted, but we are committed to cleaning our image and ensuring that we fight corruption,” he said. He however, asked the law enforcing bodies to not only punish officers who receive bribes but also punish those who bribe them.
However, Polly Namaye, the police deputy spokesperson issued a stanch warning against corrupt officers, saying there is no amount of excuse that can exonerate corruption.
“If you feel you are encountering challenges, share it with your bosses. There is no excusable explanation for receiving a bribe,” she said.
Namaye asked the public to stop judging only the corrupt officers but also call for action against those who bribe the police. She explained that the police might not be as corrupt as the figures show, but because they interface with the public every day, they are perceived as corrupt.
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