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Japhet Koome, former police constable poised to take the reins at Vigilance House

Inspector-General of police nominee Japhet Koome. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

President William Ruto's nominee for the position of Inspector-General of the National Police Service  Japhet Koome appeared for vetting on Tuesday by the parliamentary  Committee on National Security, Defence, and Foreign Relations.

The Committee, chaired by Baringo Senator William Cheptumo sought to find out Koome's suitability for the position.

Koome was quick to outline his vision to the committee.

“If you approve my nomination, my vision is to transform the Policing service in this country; for a safe and secure Kenya. That is what I’m looking at. I must transform the policing service in the country,” said Koome.

Born in Giaki, Meru County in 1967, Japheth Koome had his early education in Meru and Marsabit counties where he was a top performer.

The seasoned police officer noted the lingering  Shifta menace saw his mother send him to Marsabit Primary school at the age of twelve years which he says hardened him.

He proceeded to Kagumo High School for his secondary school education. Here, he says, he was a beneficiary of police training programs offered to form 5 students at Kiganjo Police Training College.

“By the time I was leaving Kagumo High School and joining the university, I was already a policeman,” said Koome.

He would later proceed to the University of Nairobi in 1987 for a degree in Civil Engineering. Shortly after his graduation, Koome joined the Police Service as a Constable through a recruitment process. He was among the first university graduates to join the service as Constable.

“Chair, I would like to state that fellow officers are very excited about this nomination because one of their own who joined the service as a constable is now being vetted to be the Inspector-General of the National Police Service of Kenya,” he told the committee.

“The constable in Mandera can now dream of one day becoming an Inspector-General. A constable in Oyugis can dream of one day leading the National Police Service. It is a morale booster to all the constables out there protecting our country,” said Koome.

Koome rose through the ranks, serving in the Anti-Stock theft unit as an Inspector of Police in Gilgil, Superintendent of Police, and Deputy Divisional Commander Eastlands – Nairobi.

The bombing of the US Embassy in 1998 necessitated his training at the Louisiana Police State Academy- Louisiana University in the USA. There, he pursued a course in anti-terrorism and was even appointed honorary mayor by the Mayor of Baton Rouge, the capital city of Louisiana.

Upon his return to the country, Koome was promoted and transferred to Machakos as OCPD, and later to Maragwa as OCPD before being posted to Eastlands in 2001 where he was tasked with dealing with increased murder incidents which, he says, “he solved in two weeks”.

He has also served in the city centre, handling increasing cases of bank robberies, and was awarded the Head of State Commendation (HSC).

Having worked in the Central Division, he was transferred to Kiganjo as the officer in charge of practical police work.

In  2005, Koome was transferred from Kiganjo, in charge of police housing.

“We put up nice houses for police officers all over the country. In Marsabit, Kibish, Oyugis, and other places,” he said.

He continued working as Director of Planning- Kenya Police Service and in 2015 was transferred to Nairobi City as Police Commander.

“A very challenging position where I commanded major operations including the visit by the Holy Father, Pope Francis. We had Tokyo International Conference on Africa Development (TICAD) where we had 35 heads of state in this city. There were 4,000 delegates from Japan and there was no incident recorded. The service did well,” said Koome.

After the 2017 General Election, Koome was transferred to Kenya Police Service headquarters as the Principal Deputy to Deputy Inspector General.

In 2019, he was promoted to Commandant of the National Police College in Kiganjo, Nyeri County.

During the vetting, the trained engineer who maintained that he has a clean record of service disclosed that his wife is a detective. The committee sought to find out if he has a family member who would present a conflict of interest in his job as Inspector General.

“She’s an investigator. She heads the fraud unit with Sacco’s regulatory authority. I have my job to do and she is professional. She knows the limits to which she can go. It’s a matter of serving this country. That will not in any way conflict with my duty as Inspector General,” he stated.