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10,000 MORE POLICE OFFICERS: A GOOD JOB OR NOT?

Looking for a job? The National Police Service Commission (NPSC) has announced that they are to recruit 10,000 more police officers and are asking Kenyans aged 18-30 years old ‘interested in law enforcement’ to apply for recruitment on Jul 14. Is this good news for employment and law and order? Not necessarily so says the Kenya Forum.

The new police recruits will be selected at 289 centres across the country, with 6,000 due for service in the regular police and the rest trained as Administrative Police officers.

Supposedly the extra 10,000 police officers are being recruited to bring the police-population ratio in Kenya to international standards, from the current one officer per 850 head of the population to nearer one per 400 within five years.

STRICT GUIDELINES FOR RECRUITMENT SAYS NPSC

Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo

Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo

The new members of the police force, under the enlightened leadership of Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo, will be recruited according to strict guidelines designed to disqualify recruits who attempt to win their place through bribery, cheating or political endorsement.

Candidates with letters of support from politicians will be turned down. Only letters of recommendation from head teachers, religious and community leaders will be accepted, the NPSC have said.

Regional, ethnic and gender diversity will also be reflected in those selected, it is claimed.

THE KENYA FORUM IS SKEPTICAL

The proposal certainly reads alright in principle but is it unalloyed good news? Sorry to say, and sorry to be so skeptical, but no it is not, says the Kenya Forum.

First, a little anecdote.

This Kenya Forum correspondent was a passenger in a car en route from Nairobi to Gilgil on Saturday. Knowing how kali the police are at the moment the driver and passengers kept a close eye on the speedometer throughout the journey, especially approaching Naivasha. Not once did the needle go above 90 Kmh (the speed limit for the car being 100 KPH).

Heading down the hill into Naivasha, two cars passed our vehicle at well over 100 KPH. We laughed. “They’re in trouble”, we said.

Entering the outskirts of Naivasha our car was pulled up (and not the cars that had passed us at such speed).

How many roadblocks does Kenya need?

How many roadblocks does Kenya need?

“You were doing 120 Kph”, said one of the host of police officers. We would be charged and have to appear in front of the magistrates court on Monday, he said.

We pleaded our innocence. We demanded to see the photograph from the speed trap. All to no avail as the police officer had (illegally) taken the driver’s licence and sent it over to Naivasha police station where we too had to go to be charged.

At the police station we again asked to see the evidence (which you are entitled to so by law) but were told that would not be ready for several hours.

TIME TO PAY UP… OR MAKE A CALL

This is what the good police officers of Naivasha were up to. With the threat of a greatly delayed journey, then having to spend up to a day waiting to appear in front of a magistrate, followed in all likelihood by a fine, the police were looking for, how can one put it, something small to help resolve the situation.

The Naivasha police had no evidence, and they knew it. They knew the law but didn’t care, or have to abide by it.

As it turned out, one of the passengers in our car knew someone locally, who in turn knew a senior local police officer. A phone call later, and with the police knowing that we weren’t going to budge, our driver was “let off” with a caution. That too says something about Kenya’s police: if you know someone you can “get off”.

CORRUPT, UNPROFESSIONAL AND OUT OF CONTROL

The first point of the story is that Kenya’s police service is utterly corrupt, unprofessional and increasingly out of control and beyond the law.

The second point is that pouring 10,000 more recruits into the old wine bottle that is the Kenya police service will not work and will only result, even if they are fairly recruited (which the Kenya Forum very much doubts), in the new recruits being rapidly tainted.

ROOT AND BRANCH REFORM

It is perhaps indicative of this government’s priorities that their current proposals include the recruitment of 5,000 new teachers but twice that number of police officers.

Kenya does face a security threat but the multiple roadblocks across the country (for which read ‘bribery points’) are not helping the fight against terrorism, just filling the pockets of police officers and terrorising wananchi.

The Kenya police service needs root and branch, wholesale reform and a mass clear out of corrupt officers before adding to their number.

Without comprehensive reform of the Kenya police and the manner in which they operate, we might as well rip up our new constitution and the Bill of Rights.

Zimbabwe military press conference

Raila Odinga Speech at the CSIS Washington DC, USA

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