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Kenya needs to rid police service of rogue officers

By The Standard | July 18th 2016

NAIROBI: Inspector General of police Joseph Boinett has intimated the Police Service will carry out an internal audit to determine whether their ranks have been infiltrated by terrorists.

This comes after revelations that followed the Kapenguria police station hostage situation. Slightly over a week ago, police arrested a terror suspect and held him at the police cells awaiting interrogation. But as fate would have it, a sympathetic policeman attempted to forcibly free him from the cells. In the ensuing commotion, the policeman managed to kill six of his colleagues even as he himself lost his life.

This is a serious indictment of a Police Service that has over the years lost its appeal. The presence of rogue police officers has been a concern ever since the Independent Police Oversight Authority raised the flag. In the Mpeketoni attacks in 2013, IPOA stated some police officers smuggled and held weapons in store for Al-Shabaab terrorists. Last year, 23 Ethiopian citizens were found in Kahawa, Nairobi, and it is inconceivable that the police knew nothing about them. In addition, quite a number of police dabble in crime, signalling a service in crisis.

While the internal audit move is welcome, underlying causes why a disciplined service should be so undisciplined must be investigated. This has everything to do with the much-needed police reforms that the Government appears to only give lip service. Acquiring new police vehicles and setting up surveillance cameras are not enough if the working conditions, housing and low pay rob the police of dignity.

It is easy for demoralised police officers to betray their oath of office if temptation comes their way.Of greater importance is the need to tackle malpractices during the hiring of new police recruits. The bar must be raised to ensure only the deserving join the service.

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