The Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) says it will continue investigating cases where police officers are accused of using unjustifiable force.
The agency’s chairperson Anne Makori on Saturday, December 17, faulted the Inspector-General of Police Japhet Koome for calling some of its members “busybodies”.
Koome, during Friday, December 16 memorial ceremony of 57 police officers killed in the line of duty, said IPOA lacks empathy for police officers.
The Police IG was accompanied to the ceremony at the Kenya Police Training College in Embakasi, Nairobi, by Interior Cabinet Secretary Prof. Kithure Kindiki, who echoed Koome’s sentiments.
“Today, we are holding a memorial ceremony for police officers killed during work. There are no representatives of IPOA here. Are you seeing any?” Koome asked the gathering during his speech.
The IG said whenever a police officer kills “dangerous” people, IPOA is quick to take up the matter for investigation, yet when the reverse happens, the agency hardly speaks.
“We do not want to hear you (police officers) have been hurt or your hand severed by crooks when you have a firearm. Count on the Inspector-General [of Police] to stand with you. Kenya has a committed Cabinet Secretary. Do not be scared by busybodies saying the police officers [who use their guns] should be arrested,” Koome said.
Interior CS Kindiki, on his part, said IPOA remained silent when eight police officers and a chief were killed in Turkana County on September 24, 2022.
“It is as if police officers are to wait for their deaths. Let the police officers use the guns to defend members of the public, public property and themselves,” said Kindiki.
IPOA now says it won’t be intimidated by the comments made by Kindiki and Koome, promising to continue weeding out rogue police officers from the service.
IPOA chairperson Anne Makori says the agency, established in 2011, enjoys constitutional backing.
Terming Kindiki and Koome’s remarks as “unfortunate and dangerous”, Makori said: “The Inspector-General, in his swearing-in speech on November 11, 2022, acknowledged that 98 per cent of police officers are good while the remaining 2 per cent needed to be rehabilitated with the support of institutions such as IPOA. It is in the spirit of this pledge that IPOA continues to commit to the execution of its mandate.”
“Article 239 (5) of the Constitution of Kenya determines that all national security organs are subordinate to civilian authority,” added Makori.
Makori said IPOA was established “after a period of unchecked police excesses”.
“The authority shall [continue to] investigate any death or serious injury; including death or serious injury while in police custody, which are the result of police action or were caused by members of the service while on duty.
“For the ten years the authority has been in existence, rightfully, it has been busy, ultimately to ensure that Kenyans have confidence in the men and women in uniform – the police – in whom they entrust their lives and property on a daily basis,” said IPOA boss Makori.
The agency has assured police officers of its support “including when they make a decision that may result to the use of lethal force”.
“Holding the [police] service accountable is not fault-finding or a witch-hunt, but it simply seeks to answer – what happened? Why did it happen? Was it avoidable? Can we prevent it in future? And finally, was there ill motive? – when incidents requiring our investigations occur.”
To suggest that it hasn’t engaged in witch-hunt against the police, IPOA said since its inception in 2011 it had received more than 20,000 complaints, but only less than 500 had been forwarded to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions for court action.
“Some investigations have also found that officers used lethal force justifiably,” said IPOA boss Anne Makori.
IPOA said it won’t, nonetheless, allow police to act extra-judicially under its watch because “the conditions for the use of force and firearms are well spelt out in the legislation”.
The authority highlighted the conditions under which a police officer can use force. Below are the guidelines: