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Police reforms must be holistic and structured

By The Standard | Published Mon, March 13th 2017 at 00:07, Updated March 13th 2017 at 00:09 GMT +3

Institutional reforms and changes that guarantee better service provision are always welcome.

Changing times call for constant review of existing rules to keep in tandem with societal changes.

For this reason, the demand that police officers sign a new set of rules that will guide their conduct is timely.

But this is bound to be met with some scepticism from a public that has grown to regard the police service as incorrigible, judging from the deportment of police officers and encounters with them.

And this is so because to imagine that a signed piece of paper will transform the police would be a little to optimistic.

Granted, nothing operates in a vacuum and police officers must, as a rule, sign the new regulations, but doubt pervades many that the rules will be adhered to.

Transparency International has ranked the police service at the top of corruption charts in Kenya for years on end, the biggest indicator of the disdain the police have for laws.

There is so much within the service that needs to change; from the curricula, training methods (like shaking a tree for the leaves to fall off to fill sacks as a mode of disciplining recruits for minor misdemeanours as being late,) ought to be done away with.

Like Pavlov’s dog, the officer gets conditioned to meting out violence and intimidation to his subjects.

Sadly, these are the hallmarks of the Kenya police service.

The way officers go about their business and interact with the public must change.

This is because the training that the police undergo prepares them to deal with rogues rather than with civilised, law-abiding taxpayers in need of a service, namely assured security against law-breakers.

The National Police Service Commission must be granted greater powers to discipline errant officers and ensure the rules are followed to the letter.