Police transfers do little to improve security in Kenya

Police chiefs are being transferred in impromptu reshuffles. Such transfers often come on the heels of failure on the part of the police to contain a situation and the reason given for the transfers over the years has always been to improve security.

In the latest move, more than 60 police officers will be transferred in a bid to improve security especially in volatile areas. On the border between Kisumu and Nandi counties, security has been a perennial nightmare, as recent events where three people were killed prove.

Bad politics, land disputes and cattle rustling have ensured residents of this area are constantly attacking each other to reclaim what they believe has been taken away from them. Police presence has done little, if anything, to contain the situation and when things get out of hand, the easiest way out has been to transfer senior officers.

More serious action needs to be taken. From the citizen’s perspective, these transfers are nothing more than knee-jerk reactions aimed at appeasing the public because clearly, no meaningful improvement has ever been realised from the change of guard. Needless to say, the changes are for ceremony.

Insecurity remains the Government's Achilles heel and it will take more than cosmetic changes to improve security. Meaningful changes within the police have to do with a change of mind-set, which is best tackled from the recruitment stage. First, there are sadists who join the police service not as a calling, but as a means to earn a livelihood.

After training, the working conditions of junior policemen are a mood dampener and need to be expeditiously improved upon to boost their morale. And in this regard, the areas that need immediate attention are housing, remuneration and staff welfare.