Traumatised policeman rescued from construction site in Turkana

Dr Moses Kimenchu, a Physiologist with the National Police Service, with Clement Erumu, a police officer who deserted duty eight year ago. [Mike Ekutan, Standard]

A stressed police officer, who was deemed to have deserted duty eight years ago, has been rescued from a construction site in Turkana county.

Clement Erumu was recruited into the National Police Service in 2011.

He served in various stations before being posted to Elwak Police Station in the volatile Mandera county. Little did he know this assignment would leave him traumatised.

“There were several attacks at Elwak. I remember one day I went to the market to buy some vegetables and five officers were deployed to escort passengers,” Erumu recounted.

“Upon reaching a certain point, they all perished after hitting an Improvised Explosive Device. My roommate was also killed in that incident,” he added.

He developed trauma after attending the burial of his colleague in Mount Elgon.

In 2015, unable to cope with the trauma, Erumu disappeared from his post and returned home empty-handed.

The family thought he was on leave, but started asking questions when he had an extended stay.

His family watched as he withdrew from them, exhibiting strange behaviours like subjecting his children to drills as if they were recruits and pretending to shoot at passing vehicles.

“I stayed at home without providing for the family since they knew I was working and wondered why I was staying at home,” he said.

Despite the ridicule he faced from his community, Erumu's wife, Irine, refused to give up on him.

She became the family's breadwinner, fetching firewood and selling it to support her husband and their four children. Her unwavering faith and love kept the family afloat during their darkest days.

Erumu's turning point came when Dr Moses Kimencho, a police psychologist, travelled hundreds of kilometres to find him.

Dr Kimencho recognised the signs of trauma in Erumu and offered him the help he desperately needed.

“I have gone through Erumu’s file and I have seen nothing was wrong. It is just stress that made him desert his job,” Dr Kimencho said.

Through gentle exercises and open conversations, Dr Kimencho helped Erumu confront his demons and begin the healing process.

“Let me go with him. You can get someone to replace him tomorrow because I have come for my officer,” Dr Kimencho jokingly told the foreman and other casual workers at the construction site.

Erumu's journey is far from over. He may face challenges in returning to the police force, but Dr Kimencho appealed for understanding during the rehabilitation process.

“I ask anyone passing through the issue of trauma, stress or substance abuse disorder to come out so that he or she can get help. We are ready to help such people so that we can build Turkana and the rest of the nation,” he said.

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