The reconstituted Police Flying Squad is struggling to deal with vehicle thefts and violent crime due to the disbandment of the tracking department. The department was comprised of 6 trained officers in phone tracking and hacking using software procured from the United States.
The officers would also track suspects through their emails and pinpoint their locations. The software would also enable the officers to track down the suspects in real time. Sometimes it would take only a few hours or days to find a sequence that would help the officers to track down suspects.
However, the officers were redeployed to other department when the police management disbanded the Police Flying Squad early this year. One of the officers in the Squad told URN on condition of anonymity that they are now struggling to track down suspected criminals due to the disbandment of the department.
According to the officer, they have gone back to tracking suspects using phone printouts, which is time consuming since they first have to pick up those connected to the suspect to lead them to their target.
"The way we are looking for the suspects is very tiresome. No wonder we haven't been able to arrest any serious one or recover any stolen vehicle. We are doing exactly what the president advised against. Looking for people using their shirt colors," the source said.
Police Spokesperson, Emilian Kayima, says while the department was a bonus for the force and was indeed needed at every police station, officers in the unit were overstepping their mandate and personalizing things.
According to Kayima, the department had become a money minting venture as the officers had turned their focus on phone tracking instead of tackling crime such as kidnaps and vehicle theft.
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The officers would charge the victims of phone theft between Shillings 100,000 and 1.000.000 depending on complexity of the case. Those in need of vehicle tracking would often pay more. The former Flying Squad Commandant, Herbert Muhangi repeatedly cautioned the complainants against paying for the service in vain.
Ken Muhirwe forked out about Shillings 2 million to track his stolen vehicle. "I paid the money because I wanted the person found before he could sell my car in Congo or elsewhere. In fact we found him in Arua. When the tracker traced to Arua, the operatives used private means to rush and intercept him without going through the bureaucracy that would have caused delays," Muhirwe told URN in a telephone interview.
Kayima says currently the Flying Squad works as a support unit to the territorial police, where those in need of their services should turn for help.
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This may not be helpful given the fact that only Kampala CPS has an officer with phone tracking skills across the entire the country. Even with the skills, officer uses Google maps to track the suspects and depends on telecoms to provide the coordinates, which limits his abilities.
These coordinates, which are paid for only show where a person is at that time and once he moves, you have to request for new coordinates. However, there are officers who have invested in software, tracking and hacking skills but operate outside the police structures.
Some of them are in General police, others in intelligence and others in Counter terrorism.