By CALIST OMONDI
While I congratulate Mr Macharia Njeru for his appointment as Chairman of the Kenya Police Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA), I would like him and his team to consider the following points as far as police recruitment, training, management, are concerned.
I retired from the force last year. Statistics show that on average 2,000 police officers leave annually through retirement, desertions, sackings, resignations or through natural causes like death.
The following needs to change: mode of recruitment; constitution of the police especially regarding the 41 offences against discipline and Force Standing Orders (FSO); and training of senior police staff on management to make the police competent, meet international standards, and have a human face.
During the 1990s, when I joined the Police College at Kiganjo, there were two groups of recruits: those recruited at district level popularly known as “centres”, and those sneaked.
The latter, due to their political godfathers compounded with impunity, now populate the top management of the Kenya Police and are behind the rot in the force.
They will occasionally be heard shouting to their juniors, “Kwani reforms ni ya mama yako!” When their juniors are sick and ask for off duty, they will quip “Kazi ni dawa (work is medicine). Take pills and go to work!”
These groups believe a junior police officer’s bed is only for sleeping with one eye open. No wonder the officers are frustrated and works under stress. Unfortunately, many vent their anger, either on their seniors or on the very public they are sworn to protect.
Section 41 of the Force Standing Orders on discipline is a colonial relic that has outlived its usefulness. I don’t know why breaking out of the police line is still an offence, yet officers now get house allowance to rent homes.
Likewise, a police officer who has bathed and ironed his uniform well, but forgotten to shave should not be charged with being dirty.
Section 41 is ambiguous and has no substance or component. It is more often abused by senior police officers to settle scores with their juniors, if they cannot find anything tangible to charge them!
For example, a junior officers who happens to own a car more expensive than his or her senior counterpart, or a junior officer who unknowingly seduces his seniors’ girlfriend, are both liable to be charged under this section.
The right internal mechanism to discipline errant officers is wanting. Such proceedings are normally presided over by an officer of the rank of inspector and above.