The sight of police officers battering Nairobi County Assembly member Patricia Mutheu on Tuesday was revolting. It brought back memories of police viciousness. Brutality has become synonymous with the National Police Service despite attempts to eradicate it.
But we will not tire from condemning that and demanding firm action against perpetrators. We cannot countenance a police service that thrives on ferocity and barbarity. That belongs to the dark ages.
Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i has come out to condemn the act and directed that action be taken against the culprits. Simultaneously, Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji had ordered investigations into the assault of Ms Mutheu, who is the MCA for Mlango Kubwa Ward.
Thus, attention shifts to the responsible agencies, the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) to lurch onto the matter and secure evidence to enable the DPP to commence prosecution. Speed is of essence here.
The public is demanding action. Those roguish officers should be identified, thrown out of the service and made to pay for their recklessness.
Police officers operate with standing orders. They know procedures and have a code of conduct to guide their work. So, when some resort to brutal violence as witnessed at City Hall, then it demonstrates that something is wrong with the service.
Yet in this case, the brief was straightforward; they were required to end a stalemate between the MCAs and County Speaker Beatrice Eliachi. Thus, use of excessive force was uncalled for.
What is galling is the fact the police service is one institution that has defied reforms. It has refused to discard the colonial hangover that designed it as an agency for coercion and ruthlessness. A lot of energy and resources have been thrown at reforming it.
The 2010 Constitution was the latest and provided a robust framework for the transformation. Among others, it changed its name from “police force” to connote philosophical and a mindset shift.
A new protocol was introduced requiring competitive recruitment of the head of the service, which title was also re-designated Inspector-General instead of Police Commissioner.
Subsequent statutes created new demands where senior officers were taken through fresh interviews to determine their suitability to serve. All these have not achieved the desired objective.
We demand administrative and legal sanctions against the culprits to signal that brutality is not acceptable in the service.
For a start, IG Hillary Mutyambai should institute disciplinary measures on those officers pending outcomes of the investigations and subsequent legal proceedings.