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The Kenya Police Force

Anti Riot police in the aftermath of a past riot at
Kenyatta University
An expert, more precisely, a group of experts, was hired to come up with recommendations on how the Kenya Police Force would redeem a bad public image and be more effective to the citizenry. Amongst the recommendations were better housing for the police, better working terms, better training and a better brand. Whoever who is in charge of implementing the recommendations was quick to implement them, rather quick to implement the easiest, branding. The "Kenya Police Force" was deemed to ring the wrong bell in terms of the police force and use of force. The Kenya Police Service would be way better.

However, this did not yield much. While the Police Force has been more visible through a spokesperson, the Administration Police (AP) was caught the other day breaking down an illegal procession. The AP chaps figured that the best way to break such a demonstration was to repeatedly clobber an elderly woman using a 1 meter wooden baton. It was even more ironical that the protest was on failure of the Police Force to respond on cattle rustling, resulting to deaths of members of the community. While the Police were a no-show during the cattle rustling, several baton-wielding individuals with a quest to clobber any human on their path were summoned in no time to break up a peaceful demonstration. Apparently, those looking to demonstrate or even commit crimes have to notify the Police in advance for a smooth going.

The unlucky AP fellow was reported to have been given the pink slip for being unfortunate enough to make a d├ębut TV appearance clobbering a mother of grown children.


In addition, the Administration Police commandant in charge of the province apologised to the woman with a delegate of several AP commanders personally visiting the victim to pass on their apologies. This is surely a strange happening and a different image of our Police Force, probably the "Police Service " part.

 A while back, when I was in the third of what has turned to be 5 and counting years in Kenyatta University (They have a loyalty scheme where you have to redo several units as a reward) , a section of the students happened to demonstrate in one very rainy night. Regular Police, Administration Police and mostly General Service Unit ( GSU) were deployed to quell the riots. Rumours claim the rioters proved to be quite tough that it was decided it would only be fair to deploy almost the entire student faculty at the nearby GSU training school to exchange ideas in their domains.

It got worse as the students at KU decided to strike a raw nerve, informing their counterparts at the GSU training school that had they passed their exams, they would be on the other side of the fracas. The GSU responded by holing up the students in a hostel and pumping in tear gas. Metallic gates barring the rear exits and those separating men and women side had to be broken for the students under siege to escape.

The small narrative was meant to bring up a point, that the Police Force is commonly perceived as an excellent opportunity for those who did not make it to colleges and universities by natural selection. It's quite sad that the clever chaps in the society are totally left out from recruitment in the police force , a glaring omission that is hardly noticed. Also contributing to this issue is Police salaries.

The Police Force should be amongst the highest paid civil servants , this are people who put their lives on the line to ensure the country is secure, and the people we expect to guard our lives and property.

At the same time, police housing in some areas consists of a dilapidated hall partitioned with bed sheets , with each partition been home to a family. More than 45 years after independence, this is a national tragedy.

I argue that the low salaries may be part of the contributing factor to corruption in the Force.

However, one of the members of the elite Recce GSU company - who are normally assigned to guard dignitaries and in complex security situations, such as standoffs - offers different opinions. He argues that a real police man should be one by heart, and should not be compromised no matter the situation. He also argues that corruption is more of a Kenyan culture than a police problem - something that most of the country is brought up to appreciate and look up to.

I agree that Kenyans have a shocking culture, including one of only being orderly when someone in authority is watching them, a behaviour I believe stems from the education sector.

It is also debatable as to how immigrant Somalis got authentic Kenyan passports, to the point that the Queen of the United Kingdom found that she could no longer extend her kindness on the waiver of visa requirements for Kenyans visiting her kingdom. While Police are been blamed for accepting dollars in exchange for the passage, the Minister in charge of Immigration has also been reported to have authorised suspect activity in his docket.

I also question the recent handling of grenade attacks in Nairobi. The Police have been quite quick at establishing links between suspects and Harakat al Shabaab Mujihadeen (HSM). In addition, a suspect was apprehended, he confessed to the attacks and was sentenced to life in prison - all this happened so fast shattering any other records the Kenya police may have had. It is the same Police Force that was not able to conclusively solve similar grenade attacks an year ago.

Makes me wonder, would the Police stop an "illegal" demonstration calling for Police reforms and better terms for the force?

I look forward to more of the Police service, and a better Kenya.

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