The police should use COVID-19 pandemic as a chance to change for the better

By Levi Cheruo Cheptora | Monday, Apr 27th 2020 at 09:48
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Africans are not alarmed by the news of rogue elements within our Law Enforcement Agencies that have so far contributed to dozens of avoidable deaths in the name of enforcing stringent measures meant to nib the spread of COVID-19 at its ferocious bud. As of the end of last weekend, Nigerian Police had clobbered, shot, or tortured 18 fellow countrymen compared to just a dozen that were attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here in Kenya, the situation is no different. Despite nationwide condemnation and assurances from various quarters within the government, citizens have had to bury loved ones killed in the name of enforcing government directives.

Publicly whipping old men and women going about their daily chores striving to make ends meet is not only unsettling but also outrightly barbaric. Arresting and clobbering people for not wearing masks in public while not wearing masks themselves is by no means a clear demonstration that the police are not acting by goodwill, rather they are flexing their impunity muscles and telling you and me we are not getting out of the woods yet.

It is heartbreaking to hear some people are walking free of partially locked down zones or government-designated centers allegedly with the full knowledge or presence of the police. Allegations of bribery and business as usual attitude among the police not only endangers the vulnerable lives of other Kenyans out there but also the very vulnerable lives of such careless police officers.

As an agency mandated to enforce laws, protect the lives and properties of fellow citizens, it is no secret the police have a crucial role to play, especially with the threat COVID-19 pandemic poses. We all need them now more than ever.

However, it need not be business as usual. These are trying moments for everybody. Many have since lost their jobs. Most people are on forced and unpaid leave. The COVID-19 Pandemic has only compounded the collective national trauma, hence the need for solidarity.

The Men and Women in uniform need to shed their old coat notoriously known for cruelty. This is by far an opportunity to demonstrate their professional ethics and their second and third side of the coin. It is an opportunity for the police officers to prove their detractors, the naysayers, and doubters wrong by engaging fellow citizens with due respect.

We are all into this as a people, as a nation, as a continent, as a world. Teamwork is the only thing that will save and protect lives. More so, it never hurts to be decent human beings. Kindness is free; sprinkle it everywhere.

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