Five police officers have been shot dead by their colleagues in separate confrontations across Kenya since January.
However, there is a silver lining because it's a drastic drop compared to a similar period last year, when 18 police officers were killed in similar circumstances, according to Nation Newsplex’s Deadly Force database. In 2015, nine police officers were killed by their colleagues.
National Police Service spokesman George Kinoti said the five deaths are regrettable because their aim is to eliminate the vice completely.
He went on to attribute the drop to findings contained in a report produced by “court of inquiry,” as it was christened, that are now being implemented.
The inquiry is the taskforce that went around the country, with instructions to initiate “up, close and candid” conversations with officers in the rank and file and identify the causes of the shootings, including suicides.
The Court of Inquiry, headed by Assistant Inspector General of Police Aggrey Adoli, presented the report to Inspector General Joseph Boinnet in October last year.
Though the report was not made public, Mr Kinoti said its recommendations are being implemented.
Independently, the Nation established that the report identified high-handedness by some commanders, depression and crimes of passion, among the causes of the vice. It also identified case studies of alcohol abuse and HIV/Aids prevalence among officers.
It further recommended interventions to ensure individual officers are well equipped to deal with them.
The report also established that marital problems, financial management handicaps and low morale were also affecting officers.
Mr Kinoti revealed that since then, a guidance and counselling department has been established under the Internal Affairs Unit.
The department is headed by Commissioner of Police Gitahi Kanyeki and deputised by Senior Superintendent Kibinge Muturi, who is an ordained minister.
Both officers are professional counsellors.
An earlier report was compiled in 2011 by a team of seven psychologists, some from universities and backed by 25 police officers.
“The IG began with a transformation initiative by visiting police stations and outposts, talking to officers and encouraging them to speak out and whenever he heard statements of disaffection, he has made sure action is taken to encourage more officers to come forward,” said Mr Kinoti.
He added: “In a number of cases, it has come out very clearly that the problem is leadership. Some OCSs (police stations commanders) have been relieved or transferred. In other cases, the commanders have been reprimanded.”
Mr Kinoti referred to a 2016 incident in which a police officer killed seven colleagues including the commander at Kapenguria Police Station.
“It was common knowledge that the rogue officer, before the massacre, had lost it. He was always chewing miraa and on many occasions was in the company of questionable people. That should have been reported,” he said.
Mr Kinoti went on: “All commanders have since been told to report any problem, or negative behavioural change they may note among their juniors that may lead to fatalities if not acted upon.”
Such cases, he also said, are thereafter handled by the counselling department.
Most of officers whose case have been handled by department had marital problems while others were unable to control their finances.
And in the event criminal culpability is identified, such officers are subjected to the law like any other criminal.
In the fifth case, an administration police officer turned his gun on his colleagues, killing two and injuring another in Baringo South in June this year. The officers were among hundreds of others who deployed in the insecurity-prone area to flush out armed bandits who were wreaking havoc in the region.
In another incident in August an Administration Police Officer shot dead his wife who also an Administration Police Officer in Gem Sub County.
The AP officer, who was attached to the Yala AP camp, was on night duty when her husband killed her following a family dispute. He worked at another camp at Sosiot AP camp in Kericho West and had requested a short leave to visit his wife.
Earlier in April, another AP officer was shot dead in a bar at Ngong town, in the outskirts of Nairobi.
He was shot by a colleague following an argument over a woman who is believed to have been dating both officers.
In yet another incident in February, two police officers died while another was injured after they fought among themselves in a Nairobi’s Tassia estate. The trio worked together as undercover officers at Embakasi Police Station until they were separated a few months before the incident in a routine transfer.
Mr Kinoti said police officers are well trained to handle firearms and more so maintain discipline, therefore the issue of a trigger-happy NPS should not arise. Besides training, he said officers are guided by Service Standing Orders (SSO).
The SSO is basically a voluminous guide on standard operating procedures which bind all officers deployed for service. It is further broken down to fit the unique situations of units at the lowest levels like stations and patrol bases, and is revised from time to time as new trends develop.
If everything went according to book, use their firearms by officers is a meticulously organised affair and unexplained shootings would be a thing of the past.
For more on the Deadly Force Database visit: http://www.nation.co.ke/deadlyforce