King'ori Mwangi stood guard in a newsroom as his son lay dying in a hospital ward

Late police boss King’ori Mwangi. [File, Standard]

King’ori Mwangi, the retired police boss who took a final bow this week, was an affable man who trained as a scribe and used his skills to professionalise the service. We met once in his office, where he had invited me for lunch.

It was a rare entreaty that I decided to honour, and where I was joined by a handful of senior boys in blue to a meal of meat and ugali. There was no particular agenda for the meeting, King’ori revealed, save for the opportunity to get to know each other.

That was a reasonable request: police and scribes are always in search of information from the public. Scribes publish their findings; police file theirs in dossiers to help prosecute cases.

And in this quest for information, police officers need journos to engender empathy and support from the public.

Or, as it happens sometimes, turn scribes into their mouthpieces.

King’ori’s path and mine did not cross again, save for the occasional call when I sought comment from his office. He was then in charge of Nairobi province, in 2005, and it was in this capacity that he drifted to the Nation Centre in the dead of night, after the departed First Lady arrived at the Twin Tower flashing a copy of The Standard.

It’s widely suspected that Mama Lucy had arrived at the wrong address to lament what she saw as a blatant intrusion into her family life by the media. What we didn’t know then was that King’ori had driven to the Nation Centre from a hospital ward, where his young son was fighting for his life, as cancer gnawed.

King’ori appeared tranced most of that evening, as TV cameras shone light on his sleep-deprived eyes and, now we know, the grief from an imminent death in his family.

It’s such use and misuse of our troops that makes our country a unique social experiment. Why do we ask so much from individuals that we have given so little?