Dead, retired, discontinued as well as phantom police officers are drawing salaries and allowances every month from the government.
This is what has prompted the National Police Service to embark on a countrywide headcount of officers.
It also seeks to justify the number of civilian staff working in the service.
There are claims that influential personalities secretly inserted names of their dependants and friends into the payroll to enable them to receive salaries and monthly allowances only meant to befit bona fide and active police officers.
Other allegations are that deserters, the security parlance used to describe recruits who drop out of training before they graduate, also end up on the official payroll and their “earnings” end up in the pockets of rogue commanders.
“We are taking inventory of our personnel to ensure the number we have is accurate. We do not want to lose sight of the people we have in our payroll. We do not want to continue paying those who have retired and those who have been discontinued on disciplinary grounds,” said Johnston Kavuludi, the chairman of the National Police Service Commission.
The commission will sit on Tuesday next week to receive returns from stations, directorates, outposts and companies.
“We must be sure we have no ghost officers in the service. We have to ensure numbers are as accurate,” said Mr Kavuludi.
It is estimated there are 88,000 police officers in Kenya today, which puts at 1:550 the police to population ratio, falling short of international standards.
The UN recommends that there should be a police officer for every 400 citizens for effective policing in a country.
Kenya expects to meet the standards by February next year, after 10,000 recruits are inducted into the force.
The headcount comes at a critical time when Kenya is heading into a General Election next year. Officers are required in every corner of the country to ensure security.
The headcount is three-pronged: the regular police, the Administration Police and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations are conducting parallel exercises.
The task of counting officers in regular police has been given to officers commanding police divisions (OCPDs).
“The acting DIG Kenya Police has directed that all officers must undergo a physical head count that will be conducted by area OCPD. All regional and county officers to be counted under OCPD for the purpose of this exercise. Formation commanders and heads of directorates to nominate an officer to conduct this exercise,” said an internal memo seen by the Nation.
The memo is signed by Mr Stanley Lamai, the head of personnel at Vigilance House, the Kenya Police headquarters.
The memo also directs the commanders to submit their nominal rolls in “soft and hard copies” Monday.
In the DCI, director Ndegwa Muhoro has sent 80 teams to stations and directorates to collect the data.
The Administration Police, under Mr Samuel Arachi, has also embarked on a headcount.
The returns are already being received at the headquarters.
Reports indicate that phantom personalities draw salaries and allowances from public coffers every month on claims they are police officers yet they are completely unknown in police stations.
It is also claimed that officers who have left the service over the years are never struck off the official payroll, making them eligible for remuneration.
An estimated 1,500 officers leave the service every year by natural attrition, including death, retirement, desertion and resignation.
It is a major setback for Kenya’s ambition of having a police officer for every 400 citizens by February next year.
And if claims that there are thousands of ghost officers are proven, this will mean the country’s chief security officers have been relying on false statistics.
If another 10,000 police officers are inducted into service by next year, as ordered by President Uhuru Kenyatta, the police-to-population ratio in Kenya will rise to 1:430.
Besides the police headquarters, the National Police Service Commission similarly maintains data of all officers in the country.
Individual police officers are also required to fill a form and attach a colour photograph and send it to the headquarters independently.
The officers, according to the memo, must also attach a copy of the certificate of appointment into the service and in addition, all academic certificates.
It is the first head count of police officers in the country.