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Mpeketoni mess calls for central police command

By Editorial | October 8th 2014

Kenya: The Independent Police Oversight Authority (IPOA) has released a report that singles out the Police Service for censure, having failed to provide adequate security to the residents of Lamu County even after the National Intelligence Service (NIS) provided enough intelligence reports for the police to act on in an effort to forestall terrorist attacks.

While NIS indicates it handed to the Police Service intelligence reports of an impending attack as far back as 2013, the police have denied receipt. Clearly, there exists mistrust and a communication breakdown between the two security agencies that are detrimental to the security of the country.

Not only did the police fail to respond in time to distress calls following the attacks in Mpeketoni, Lamu County, the report states that a police officer aided the Al Shabaab terrorist in ferrying arms into the country and giving them safe storage. His seniors knew, but failed to act on time.

This complicity by security officers charged with safeguarding the country against attacks undermines efforts to make Kenya safe. That senior officers in Nairobi gave orders to juniors restraining them from promptly responding to calls for assistance can only be interpreted in one way; a group of people in the Police Service stood to gain even as innocent, defenseless citizens were being butchered in Mpeketoni.

There exists differences between County Police Commanders and the top echelon of the Police Service. The level of mistrust is such that the Inspector General of Police recently barred his officers from addressing the Press, partly in an effort to stop their differences from playing out in public. Though the Administration Police and the regular police fall under the ambit of the Inspector General, they have individual commands at the counties.

In emergencies, this makes it difficult to smoothly coordinate response because of the confusion arising from different orders. It is therefore imperative that the Inspector General implements the IPOA report with emphasis on establishing a central command for both the police and the APs. Regular drills and providing modern policing tools are a must.

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