NAIROBI: Less than a month after police officers were arraigned in court over the brutal killing of a human rights lawyer, his client and a taxi driver, the men in uniform are on the spotlight once again over claims that they manhandled a state agent investigating police excesses.
This time, it is claimed the police assaulted and locked up a senior officer of the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) who had served Kayole OCPD Ali Nuno with summons.
Inspector General of the Police Joseph Boinnet must demonstrate that he is concerned about these developments — especially because it is claimed that the top command is deliberately shielding rogue officers from investigations.
Something is terribly wrong when IPOA chairman Macharia Njeru says security agents have been directed to block investigations touching on rogue officers in the police force. And Macharia is within his rights to demand the Inspector General clears the air over this matter.
Established to investigate cases of police brutality against citizens, IPOA should access information on officers under probe and action must be taken against officers who attempt to block the state agency from conducting these inquiries.
The police service continues to invoke a very negative public perception among the public possibly as a result of numerous reports in which its officers are accused of harassing and unduly injuring suspects. Reports of extra-judicial killings are a legion.
How then can police officers live up to their “Utumishi kwa wote” motto in this environment?
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It should concern the Inspector General that most Kenyans do not trust the police. On many occasions, Mr Boinnet has sought to assure Kenyans of a police service ready to serve the public, and one that is determined to discard the old tainted image of an oppressor and a transgressor.
Let him now stand in the front line by exposing the rotten apples in the force. It is quite unfortunate that the IPOA incident was followed by an episode in which some senior police officers were accused of harassing junior officers. These junior officers have made startling allegations to IPOA that their superiors are forcing them to extort money from motorists using traffic crackdowns to shake them down. These claims must be investigated.
We must be convinced that there is no resistance to the IG’s intention to infuse professionalism within the National Police Service. We need to be assured that the Internal Affairs Unit of the police service is not being deliberately denied resources to operate independently. Mr Boinnet carries the weight of expectations among Kenyans and the ball is squarely in his court. Over to you Mr Inspector General.