Are our security checkpoints really fighting crime?

Written by Josh Twin on . Posted in Life

In the wake of the July 2011 bombings at Kyadondo Rugby Club and Ethiopian village, security around Uganda was tightened. Or at least that's what we were meant to believe. All buildings were required to have checkpoints at entrances, with walk through metal detectors manned by several security personnel, "armed" with handheld detectors. Motor vehicle Checkpoints were set up at entrances to malls, office buildings and practically every public place. Some "sensitive" places even had sniffer dogs added to their

arsenal. There was a general sense of security.

However, in a matter of weeks, life had returned to normal, the checkpoints were relaxed, and some places didn't even have the checkpoints any more. The security guards get tired and start waving people past the checkpoints or checking a few random people. The public also gets tired of the checking and starts acting like they are no longer afraid of the potential threats, and start harassing the security guards. Some people start walking or driving straight past the checkpoint without stopping, and the guards don't do anything about it.

The checking itself is rather ineffective. Most of them check the glove box, peep into the back of the car, and sometimes ask you to open the trunk, which they casually look into and then wave you off without touching anything in the car.

Some time last year I decided to see how long I could drive through check points with several bags and miscellaneous items in the car without them being checked. For over 8 months the bags were never checked, all the time going through the checkpoints smoothly until I encountered the only thorough check point at a small hotel in Kiira Town council. The lady properly checked and asked me about the items she couldn't easily identify (some spare parts) and finally let me in. I was very irritated by the hassle she put me through, but it quickly hit me that she was just doing her job that others weren't doing.

I drove around one car with the back looking like this.And since then, I am still driving through check points without being checked, at shopping malls, hotels, office complexes, and even government offices.
Some have argued that they only check suspicious looking people, and that they read your face to see whether they should check further, but I disagree because most of the people checking don't look or act like they have any serious training beyond how to operate a gun and probably a metal detector. (That assessment of course done by the same reading of their faces and actions) What gets more suspicious than a vehicle with several strange objects and bags? Do terrorists have badges or particular identifiers? If they did then wouldn't it be easy to find them and foil attacks?

I recently heard how a Somali family was checked very thoroughly at a checkpoint as several other people walked past because the two personnel manning the checkpoint were obsessed with the Somali family. If they were to use that methodology, they would have to thoroughly check Moslems and Arabs too, which is racist, illogical and ineffective.

Every time there is a terrorist threat, or an actual attack in Uganda or close by, the police swings into action, beefing up security again, but they quickly slacken and retreat, only to repeat the cycle whenever there is another threat.

I personally believe we are being kept alive by God's grace, not Uganda Police or the several private security outfits in the country.

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