We are expecting peaceful elections, Kenyans should remain calm- police spokesman Bruno Shioso

Police Spokesman BRUNO SHIOSO explains why this could be the most peaceful election in Kenya’s history, says wananchi should sleep easy

Is the National Police Service adequately prepared to provide security during elections?

Yes. We are fully prepared. In fact our preparation has been a process and not a one-off event. We commenced preparations immediately after the 2017 elections when we learned from our performance then and made continuous improvement on our strengths vis a vis our weaknesses.

Are you deploying enough boots on the ground?

Like I said, we are deploying adequately. We have 150,000 police officers, including generous auxiliary support from our public security sector partners. They include Kenya Correctional Services, the National Youth Service (NYS), Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), the National Police Reserve (NPS) and so forth.

In the spirit of maintaining order, what advice do you have to voters and the public in general?

We advise voters and the public to remain lawful as they exercise their democratic right. Peace should prevail at all costs – right from polling day till election results are announced and after. Police will be partners to this end.

Does it concern the Police Service that the heightened political tensions might spin out of control?

So far, the contrary is the reality. If you listen and look around, you can feel the calm unlike what has been the case in previous polls. We anticipate the most peaceful election in our electoral history. All stakeholders have contributed to this reality. Let’s build on it.

What made it difficult for the police to contain the chaos of 2007/8?

That’s part of our past history which we have learned from to become better going forward. Let’s remain optimistic of a better future. We are in a much better place and also better prepared than we were in 2007.

What lessons did the Police Service learn from that debacle?

We have learned a lot and we have incorporated those lessons in our policing strategies. First, working cooperatively in a multi-agency framework has been a boon to our efforts to police and keep the peace and I am sure Kenyans have observed better coordinated and more effective security operations as result. Also, making a decisive effort to incorporate and work with communities in a responsive manner has been helpful.

How would you say this community approach has helped?

It has necessitated the reworking of our operational philosophy to embrace human-rights-oriented policing. This has been a game changer. In short, being professional, responsible and responsive to the public, including early preparation has made us to be on top of things.  

Are there areas that you would consider as potential flashpoints for electoral violence?

Not in a threatening manner. At least, not something we cannot deal with. This is not to say there will not be a few political tensions within the expected margin of competitive politics. But whenever we see a potential threat, we move in fast with a multi-agency approach with our worthy partners to diffuse the situation through persuasion. The National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) and the national government administration have been very helpful in this regard. 

In the past, we’ve witnessed a lot of violence in Kibera, Huruma, Mombasa and Kisumu. Do police expect a recurrence of the same?

We don’t anticipate organised violence as was the case in previous elections. Probably, only isolated tensions and petty criminality which the police should be able to neutralise quickly and efficiently. 

Rift Valley was the epicentre of violence in 2007. What has been done to prevent a similar situation?

As said, through the whole-of-government security sector approach, a lot of security investment has gone into those areas. They are now very safe, secure with good coexistence amongst diverse communities. Nyumba Kumi has been also at the centre of this turnaround. 

Police have in the past been accused of using excessive force to quell riots. What can Kenyans expect?

Kenyans should expect a departure from police violence to partnerships in securing the elections. Democratic and human rights policing approach is at the centre of our policing policy and operations at all levels. 

Many times, politicians who incite their followers to violence walk free because of lack of evidence. Do we have mechanisms to get them prosecuted this time?

We have the law, and the law shall handle all lawbreakers. There shall be no exceptions or exemptions based on any consideration, including politics and politicians. 

Are all the officers from rank and file sufficiently trained on the electoral security management manual?

Absolutely yes. Training began with commanders and rolled down to every rank and file on the frontline. 

What are some of the anticipated and mapped-out challenges?

All challenges are mapped out and being tackled. We have a realistic contingency plan for all possible scenarios. 

Where should people in distress channel alarms?

To the police and national government administrators within their localities. Also, knowledge of police hotlines may be helpful.

Of course, criminals will take advantage of the situation to commit crimes. Will police be able to tame such characters?

Crime prevention and law enforcement remain our primary responsibilities and occupational tools. We are alive to this responsibility.