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State to reduce number of bodyguards for VIPs

By Cyrus Ombati | Mar 14th 2016 | 3 min read

One out of every seven police officers are deployed to guard the elite, leaving only about 70,000 to meet all the country’s policing needs.

Some top State officials each have up to a dozen bodyguards, stretching the capacity of the country’s 80,000-strong police force.

Apart from the President and his deputy, who have at least 200 and 45 security guards respectively, holders of sensitive dockets also have a high number of the 11,000 officers who provide security to VIPs.

Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery at the weekend announced that the State would scale down the number of officers attached to senior officials to free them for other duties.

While the size of the security detail varies according to the duties discharged by an official, and the level of risk, there have been concerns about the merit for some, especially those used to public displays of force.

Complaints have also been filed against senior officials who use their escorts with blaring sirens to break traffic rules, for instance driving on the wrong lanes and pushing other motorists out of the way.

The Traffic Act says it is only the President, police vehicles, ambulances and fire engines that are allowed to use wrong lanes.

Nkaissery on Saturday announced that up to 11,000 of the country's 80,000 security personnel are seconded to VIPs, leaving many Kenyans exposed.

"We are going to take away any excess security detail from anybody including former politicians... all will be affected," he said. Nkaisssery was explaining why the State withdrew excess security officers attached to Mombasa Governor Hassan Ali Joho, a move that sparked a political storm.

Of the remaining group, about 4,000 assist traffic movements across the country and hunt for drunken, careless and unlicensed drivers.

Because of their stretched numbers, police have sought the help of prison warders to patrol city streets.

All MPs are entitled to at least one police bodyguard each, and two each for their homes upcountry or in the city.

Some policemen are also deployed to some of these VIPs as their drivers.

With his family, and presidential installations, the President alone has a pool of 200-member elite squad drawn from the General Service Unit under the Presidential Escort Unit (Prescot).

But whenever he travels, the local commanders have to ensure the President's movement is well secured and where he speaks, more than 200 officers in plain clothes and uniform are deployed.

The Deputy President has a 45-member armed guard at his disposal. Governors, deputy governors, several chairmen of parliamentary committees, the Chief Justice, the governor of the Central Bank of Kenya, the Speakers of the National Assembly and Senate, Inspector General of Police, his deputies, the Chief of Defence Forces are also in the league of the fortified.

These public officers each have a chase car, at least five guards, and another division protecting their spouses and children.

An unspecified number of influential personalities, former Cabinet members and retired public servants also have police guards – because of risks posed by decisions they made and information they accessed while in office.

Some parastatal chiefs, principal secretaries and even deputy secretaries are also entitled to police bodyguards.

This is apart from APs assigned at every level of the provincial administration such as county and sub-county commissioners.

A team that was headed by former Kenya Airways Chief Executive Officer Titus Naikuni had proposed that the officers be released to undertake their core responsibilities to avoid situations where many policemen are underutilised by being deployed to work for a few VIPs at the expense of the majority.

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