Saturday March 22 2014

Pains of calling police emergency


By Andrew Bagala & Peter Mwayi

IGP Kale Kayihura at one time had to intervene in an incident in which a female journalist called 999 to alert them of a crime but the officers abused her instead. Gen Kayihura ordered them to apologise to her in writing.

Failure by the police call centre to brief the victim of the progress of the rescue has often caused chaos especially when there is a fire outbreak or an accident. Park Yard traders, who lost their property to fire, have on several times hurled stones at the first response teams for arriving late despite receiving calls in time.

When a truck and taxi were involved in an accident around Wakaliga near the Kampala Lord Mayor, Erias Lukwago’s residence and a dozen people were injured, residents including Lukwago called for more than an hour but no response was got.

The head of the Police Call Centre, Ezra Muzambwami, defends his team saying it responds to all calls and they are courteous though he adds that Golooba’s allegations can only be verified through an investigation.

“When we get a distress call, we contact the area unit commanders and give them the details of the case. They are the ones we expect to contact the victims because they are the ones who know the areas,” Muzambwami says.

Some callers claim they call the police call centre, for instance, when they are attacked and they start asking them question like the number of thugs that have attacked, whether they are armed and the type of guns they are carrying, which irritate the distressed callers.

But Muzambwami says questions are intended to understand the problem and how best it can be addressed.
He claims some callers deceive that they have been attacked yet they have not.

Police experts say dealing with pranks and distress callers is one of the courses every officer goes through before he or she is passed out in the police academy so that they can understand the problems of the callers.