We won't gamble with police officers' welfare

Kithure Kindiki. [Collins Kweyu, Standard]

The socio-economic advancement of a country depends by and large on the safety and security of its people. No country can progress when insecurity threatens daily routines and trust in institutions mandated with providing security, wanes.

But while safety and security are paramount, they, at any rate, come with challenges that if not addressed can expose a country. This is why security should be seen from the prism of shared responsibility.

Our security agencies have the onerous task of keeping us safe. This is why the Kenya Kwanza government and specifically the Interior ministry under my leadership, take the police welfare seriously.

Friday's memorial for 53 police officers and four prisons officers who fell on duty since November last year, was yet again a reminder of how our officers put their lives on the line to defend us from threats and elements of destruction.

We celebrate all the men and women who lost their lives for the sake of making us all safe. They deserve a special place in our hearts. The government will spare no effort in ensuring every officer is given the dignity they deserve at all times.

We have an obligation to ensure police officers lead decent lives. This is why in the next 30 days, we will roll out a Benevolent Fund for police and prisons officers who die in the line of duty. This, we believe, will be an important way of ensuring their families and dependents don't suffer because of the sacrifices their breadwinners make for the nation.

The planned benevolent fund will be disbursed on an ex-gratia basis and will improve life insurance, death gratuity, last expense payment and injury compensation.

The fund will raise money to support families left behind in terms of accessing modest scholarships for the children, and medical attention for those left behind as dependents, and other forms of emergencies in education, health. We've set up a committee, which will include representatives from the office of the Inspector General of Police, the National Police Service Commission and the Kenya Prison Services, to submit a report within 30 days on the details of the fund.

For optimum results, the fund and its operational framework will be entrenched through the report of the presidential task force that will be unveiled soon to review terms and conditions of service for police and prisons officers.

The report will include how the fund will operate, the governance structure so that we help in mobilising resources from the government and elsewhere from among our partners. The government will progressively increase the amounts payable as benefits to surviving families of the fallen officers and will expedite the processing of outstanding claims.

Indeed, we will ensure all relevant dues and settlements including payments for the last expense, gratuity and pension where applicable are processed and released immediately.

The government will also consider for recruitment at least one eligible member of the bereaved family whenever opportunities in the National Police Service and Kenya Prison Service arise.

Six widows and three orphans of departed officers recruited this year under this policy, are set to graduate in January. Similarly, the government will prioritise acquisition of modern equipment including protective gear and armoured land, air and sea transport facilities to minimise exposure to risk of officers.

The protective equipment of our officers, the sophistication of our arms, and armoured land and air transport will ensure that going forward as we confront the enemy, we minimise casualties on our side.

On health mater, the three specialised hospitals - National Police Service Hospital, Mbagathi; the Kenya Prison Service Hospital in Ruiru, and the Border Police Hospital in Kanyonyo have been equipped and staffed and will be opened early next year to serve our officers. The facilities will also provide counselling and trauma therapy for officers.

The writer is the Interior Cabinet Secretary