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Boinnet’s successor should avoid pitfalls that undermined his job

By The Standard | March 13th 2019

The stable, but to his critics uninspiring and lackluster tenure of Inspector General of the Police Joseph Boinnet came to an end yesterday.

Arguably, Mr Boinnet was the accidental IG. He got the job thanks to David Kimaiyo who was considered inept and clumsy. Mr Kimaiyo was serving as the first IG under the 2010 Constitution.

Mr Kimaiyo left under a cloud in December 2014 together with then Interior CS Joseph ole Lenku. Both quit hours after terrorists attacked a quarry in Mandera and killed 36 Kenyans who were asleep in tents. Mr Kimaito had been on the job for only two years.

And it was for the apparent incompetence of Mr Kimaiyo that the Jubilee administration- vexed at being blamed for insecurity- changed the Constitution and removed the authority to appoint an IG from the National Police Service Commission and gave it to the president. In spite of spirited protests by Opposition MPs, President Uhuru Kenyatta – given an advantage by the infamous tyranny of numbers- had his way and appointed the former official of the National Intelligence Service to the job.

Mr Boinnet has presided over the police service during interesting times. It was during his time that the Johnstone Kaviludi-led National Police Service Commission took us into the underworld of the much-maligned police force as they determined the suitability of police officers during vetting sessions. The abiding image is that of police officers like deer caught in the headlights squirming, fidgeting and when pushed further, lying through their teeth.

An outsider, he was billed the clean broom that would sweep clean the rot and restore the confidence of the public in the police force. Alas, that hasn’t happened. The police service is still riddled with corruption, lethargy and hostility to the public and worst of all, extrajudicial killings.

Crime is still high (in relative terms), the police are still subject to political manipulation and are constantly at the beck and call of the Executive.

But there is no denying that generally, the police is a better outfit than say, 10 years ago. Issues of welfare have come up and now jostle for space with news about corruption. There are deliberate efforts to turn it from a “force”- that is trigger-happy and uses brute to a “service” that deploys good interpersonal skills and diplomacy.

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In the wake of the crackdown on corruption in high places that has seen senior officials arrested and charged, many of Mr Boinnet critiques think that part of the reason why he never attracted controversy was because he was a bystander, unable to attract controversy. That is neither here nor there.

As he leaves, the police are better remunerated, live in better houses, have better serviceable vehicles and are well equipped to address emerging crimes and other forms of law-breaking. And many terror attacks have been voided because of the collaboration within the security services.

But concerns about the police force won’t go away. Hopefully, the person who will take over will do a thorough job.

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