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VAS

Spare a thought for the brave officers in uniform

EDITORIAL
By - | May 27th 2013

It is official, and if it is not, then it should be: Being a police officer has become one of the most dangerous jobs in Kenya today.

This comes in the wake of the brazen Al Shabaab assault on Abdisugow and Damajale police posts near the Kenya-Somalia border that left two policemen dead.

And following discovery of four more bodies, including those of a teacher, a Red Cross official and two civilians in the bush, the death toll has risen to six.

Two other people were shot and seriously wounded in the attack and are being treated as reinforcements arrive to track down the attackers to help trace other missing six officers and their weapons.

Obviously, police must be hurting after the long hours they put in during the campaign period, and the massacre of 42 of their colleagues ambushed in Baragoi, the one felled in Tana River Delta and the others killed in a suspected Mombasa Republican Council ambush and assault on a police station.

Just last week, they were pinned down and some injured during a nightlong siege by a machinegun-toting couple who used an infant as a human shield and lobbed grenades in a crowded city estate Githurai Kimbo.

These men and women are bodyguards to VIPs and politicians, accompany Cash-In-Transit vans that are a magnet for all manner of opportunists, they patrol our increasingly unsafe streets and back alleys, chase after cattle rustlers and seek to pacify feuding clans. They stand in the line of fire of better armed and motivated gangsters and even form the bulwark against unruly mobs at ethnically-charged soccer matches.

They are tasked with the unenviable task of cleaning out scenes of crime and moving corpses and searching for anything of evidentiary value. Police officers operate in rain-soaked conditions and scorching sun daily directing motorised traffic and unlocking traffic jams caused by impatient motorists who sit unconcerned in air-conditioned vehicles.

All this notwithstanding, many operate from colonial-era police stations, carry unwieldy rifles, live in pathetic housing and drive around in battered vans. These few factors and a peasant’s salary combine to ensure corruption is firmly sown into the institution’s fabric, making them a soft target of every negative analysis.

Even as police service reforms slowly unravel, and the Jubilee administration pumps in more resources to raise the ratio of officers to the population, it is high time someone spoke out for these unheralded and gallant officers.

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