Book review: Kasingye on the roots of community policing

Book title
Chosen: From the Community to Community Policing and Back to the Community: 
Author : Asan Kasingye
Pages : 391
Price: Shs60,000
Where: Most bookshops in Uganda.  

By Godwin Toko


For years now, the Uganda Police Force (UPF) has passionately promoted the idea of community policing. Simply defined, community policing envisages a police force that works hand in hand with ordinary members of the community to fight crime.
In Uganda, the idea has manifested in different ways. The most visible forms include police officers continuously engaging the wanainchi via radio, TV, newspapers and physically at market places, schools, the formation of crime prevention units in different areas et al. If Nelson Mandela lived to end apartheid in South Africa, Che Guevara to spread revolutions around the world, then Asan Kasingye lived—during his police days—to nurse and nurture the idea of community policing in the UPF.


Today, he may be one of the most recognisable names and faces associated with the UPF. A few pages into Chosen and it becomes clear that AIGP Kasingye’s beginnings were very humble. The firstborn in a family of 16—or as he colourfully put it “a football team with five substitutes”—Kasingye’s father was a small-scale businessman who ran a shop and did some tailoring to fend for his children.  Born in 1964, Kasingye writes fondly of his childhood and being raised by a community. He studied in the Church of Uganda-affiliated Kibingo Primary school in present day Sheema District.
It was also in those early years of his life that the author was exposed to political unrest as a force of Uganda exiles and the Tanzanian government turned the heat on President Idi Amin’s dictatorship.

Kasingye writes of how he carried on with his education and joined St Kagwa High School Bushenyi and finally made it to the prestigious Makerere University amid the political unrest. The pride of parents and entire villages back in the day, Mr Kasingye writes, was such that he walked with a pronounced swagger before he departed Sheema for the ivory tower.
For Mr Kasingye—like for most people that went to the hill—joining Makerere University was a life-changing moment. It was during his time at the University that he made the most impactful decision of his life—joining the Uganda Police Force.

Kasingye’s career in the Force started at Entebbe Police Station in 1990. He would go on to fall with Entebbe to the point of setting up his permanent residence there. His early days in the Force was a pendulum between joy and sorrow. In under three years, he married the love of his life, lost his mother and father in a space of three months, lost his brother, joined the world of business, and suffered a near fatal accident that greatly impacted his personal and professional life.
From reading Chosen, it’s easy to see that what Mr Kasingye considers his greatest role in the UPF has to do with community policing. In fact, he wrote of himself as The Brains Behind Community Policing in Uganda and dedicated a whole chapter to it. His journey to community policing as a speciality started after meeting Bernard Browne, a British advisor on community policing then in the country to create a new programme by the same name.


Interestingly, and unbeknownst to the authors until later, the decision taken by Browne to have him as the officer in whose hands he left the mantle for community policing in the country had to do with, among other things, the amount of food he heaped on his plate at the first meeting.
From weekly radio programs to bigger tasks of reforming sections of the police, Kasingye did it all. Along the way, he also served as the UPF’s first Political Commissar, national head of Interpol, and Police Spokesperson. All these roles came with their challenges and impacted his life differently.

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