Kenya’s fourth Inspector General of Police Japhet Koome was sworn in at a time the country is facing serious security challenges. He has no time to celebrate his promotion. He must hit the ground running.
Among the issues Koome has outlined as areas of focus include dealing with crime and maintaining discipline and professionalism in the police rank and file.
His task is not made easy by the fact that he assumes office at a time of national outcry against extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances. These cases, including the killing of Arshad Sharif, an internationally renowned investigative journalist whose death has triggered international attention, need resolution to the satisfaction of involved parties.
Enjoying the political will of the new administration, the new changes in the police service offers a glimmer of hope for the many families whose loved have disappeared or died in police custody over the last few years.
The time is ripe now for Koome to bring to an end the unexplained killings and disappearances, which for many years the media, religious leaders, human rights organisations and oversight State agencies have brought to the attention of the nation.
It is significant that even as he took his oath of office yesterday, three police officers and a civilian at the centre of the murder of lawyer Willie Kimani, Josephat Mwenda and Joseph Muiruri, are awaiting sentencing after a six-year trial. It means that Koome must begin by cleaning house and dealing with the rotten apples in the service.
Top of his agenda will be the rising cases of petty offences and violent crime in Nairobi and its environs. So serious has this been in Nairobi that Governor Johnson Sakaja has sought audience with the new police boss. During former President Uhuru’s Kenyatta reign, the police - especially the DCI - was labeled as partisan. It was accused of political witch-hunt, especially when dealing with politicians then allied to William Ruto, who was deputy president. Koome and DCI director Mohammed Amin must, therefore, build confidence in this institution.
Meanwhile, Koome will also have to raise performance within the rank and file by improving working conditions and providing better housing, in addition to streamlining transfers and placements.
President Ruto’s Kenya Kwanza manifesto promised to review the remuneration and terms of service for all officers to be commensurate with the cost of living. The new IG must see this promise actualised. All in all, the new IG will have to muster all he can to boost the morale of his officers even as he demands nothing but the best from them.