Police Reforms:Do we appoint a civilian Inspector-General,or,do we let the status quo to prevail ,and,retain a career police officer.

As it is stipulated in the new constitution,the kenyan police must undergo and embrace a major reformation within their ranks-that’s a total overhaul of the police system.And,at the moment,the subject of discussion focuses on the institution of the police.The oversight bodies that were mandated by the constitution to reform that institution are already screwing and unscrewing in trying to fix that national institution with an intention of reforming it and vetting of Inspector-General of police.

The ripe moment has dawned for the much talked about and needed reforms in the institution of police.To most kenyans at large,a reformed police service is a must at this critical times as it is outlined in the constitution.And,that’s why there has been ecstatic discussions concerning who should be named to the position of Inspector-General.The subject has generated more heat than light;there has been howling and echoes in equal measure.

According to opinion pundits,for quite a long time the kenyan police has been a disgrace in the eyes of the kenyan public due to ill vices which has infiltrated in the force,namely,corruption,inefficiency,harassment,extortion,extra-judicial killings and laxity to mention a few.Overall,the police force remains one of the institutions that badly needs reforms.It is a fact that for a long time police officers have been gagged by archaic colonial laws.It is thus prudent to have a reformer at the helm of the police.

And,that’s why in that vein the butcher’s knife is at work focusing on police reforms,and,in particular the appointment of the Inspector-General of the Kenya Police Service.The debate on whether a civilian should be appointed Inspector-General has drawn mixed reactions.A clash of opinions are underway,as a looming disquiet ignites within the police force.

To the civil society groups and human rights activists argument,they have put a spirited case where they have argued that it is paramount for the Inspector-General to be fished from outside the police force.This will inject a new blood who will instill the much needed reforms.They have argued that a civilian can do the job ,as in the case of the President who is the commander -in -chief of the Armed forces and yet he has no military training.

But,the police have come out blazing,countering those arguments,insisting that the Inspector-General must come from within the force.A career police officer who has climbed through the ranks of the police hierarchy.According to police spokesman,Eric Kiraithe,he had argued that the service should be headed by a career officer.Policing is a profession and only career officers understands the job.A career police officer should head the service for good policing practise.

And,in my considered view,i think policing is a profession like any other ,notwithstanding that the force has had a bad reputation for many years.You don’t solve a problem by creating one.Appointing a civilian is tantamount to letting a lawyer take charge of hospital theatre operations.In the U.S.A ,and many other countries in the world,the Presidents are the Commander-in -Chief ,but,they cannot direct a military operation.This is because the President cannot micro-manage operations.

The Inspector-General of Police must have the ability to micro-manage should the need arise.The same way you cannot appoint a Chief Justice who is not a lawyer,or,a military commander with no experience.

According to the Constitution,the two police units have been brought to the same command,under the Inspector-General,who will be flanked by two deputies.And,to fill that post ,The National Police Oversight Board,must shortlist persons who will be forwarded to the president for formal appointment subject to Parliament’s approval.The constitution has raised the bar for the Inspector General,who will be pampered with a security of tenure and his duties are clearly outlined in the constitution.

The kenyan police is a national body in charge of law enforcement in Kenya.Their mandate is to maintain law and order ,and enforce laws.But,their working ethics and code of conduct has been questioned and condemned by the kenyan people.It’s said that ,while discharging duties they have been accused of violating people’s rights.And,for umpteenth a[times]the kenya’s police have always topped the Transparency International’s Global corruption Barometer reports.It is a fact that corrupt tendencies continues to dog the police.

Even the United Nation special rapporteur in his report had criticized the police because of committing extra-judicial killings with impunity,and ,running a death squad in the force.

And,it is these ill tendencies which strains the relations between the police and the public.A thin line is always drawn ,as each party pulls into a different direction.They do go parallel to each other.The public do view a police force which is riddled with corruption,inefficiency,harasses and violates their rights,and ,overall a force which is to depleted to guarantee security to the citizens.

Instead of solving their security problems they do normally fuel them.Overall,the public views the police as their enemies ,and,that’s why they do normally flee when they see a police officer.

But,under that flabby exterior of accusations levelled against the police,are we in line in bashing,condemning,and,criticizing them putting into consideration the poor working conditions they do have to work with?That’s poor housing ,low pay packages,low morale and the status of unit’s depletion they do have to cope with.

It is a fact that the kenyan police are poorly paid and have to make use with archaic housing that has not been expanded,or,renovated since 1970s.This has made them very susceptible to corruption and crime.Extortion and bribery are not unknown practises and the kenyan people rank the police among the corrupt bodies in the country.

And,following the history of human rights abuses by the kenyan police which has impacted negatively in the society,efforts are being made to reform the force.With a new constitution,as it is outlined in Chapter 17,part 4 of the said document,the kenyan police shall undergo a series of reforms.Hence it will be called the Kenya Police Service,and,it shall be headed by an Inspector-General,and,divisions of it’s functions shall be organized to take into account the devolved governments.

But,to the contrary,we cannot drain wash the tremendous change we have witnessed as a country in the way police officers are doing their job-a clear indication that change is gaining momentum.However ,the debate on whether a civilian should be appointed to head the police is somehow misplaced.For instance,those who went through the rigorous vetting process to lead the judicially had to be lawyers.Those aspiring to head the police service must also have specialized training.The architects of section 11(1)of the National Police Service Act,should have thought it wisely about their decision because appointing a civilian will give the impression that the rigorous training officers undergo is irrelevant.


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