Since 1902

Police must act with decorum for citizens to trust them fully

Inspector General (IG) of Police Hillary Mutyambai addressing the press on road safety measures for the festivities at Jogoo House. [Emmanuel Mochoge, Standard]

Besides maintaining law and order, the police are supposed to protect lives and conduct themselves with decorum and restraint. This they do to instill confidence among citizens and be respected as people with authority. The authority is donated to the officers by the Constitution. That is the mark of a civilised society.

It is therefore unacceptable for some 50 police officers to storm a residence in Kileleshwa, Nairobi and allegedly assault unarmed citizens. Some 21 guests were reportedly having a good time and even preparing to leave by 8:30pm so as to meet the curfew hour, when police officers raided the home and started harassing them.

The incident speaks to a worrying trend where some police officers have, instead of enforcing the law, decided to go rogue. This is a perpetuation of the age-old blight in the police service which has refused to go away.

First, it is important to point out that the public pays to maintain the police service so that they can live in an orderly environment. For such a large number of police officers to set upon hapless ladies who would have otherwise been handled by just a handful of officers, tells of a service hell-bent on wasting meagre resources on issues that are unwarranted.

The police service is not meant to harass citizens regardless of the circumstances that may ensue. The use of such excessive force is saddening and point to a bigger malaise. This occurrence, alongside others flagged in the past few months, shows how police reforms are a long-shot, a dream that only looks good on paper.

Still, Kenyans deserve better than what is being offered by the police service which prides itself in going digital. The behaviour of some officers is akin to putting new wine into old wineskins, which may end up bursting.

In light of this, the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) and the Internal Affairs Affairs Unit (IAU) of the police service should act fast to restore confidence by ensuring that the officers who engage in lawlessness are held responsible. This will also deter those who may be tempted in future to act in certain ways.

It is reassuring that Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i is seized of the matter and has promised that recommendations arising from the various investigations will be acted upon.

Time has come to rid the force of bad apples and assure Kenyans that the police do not just serve the interests of a select few, but are there for the greater good of the citizenry.