Tension is brewing at Vigilance House, the headquarters of the National Police Service, which has in recent days come under scrutiny over indiscipline amid an ambitious reform agenda.
The crux of the matter is a policy that has seen hundreds of officers transferred in the recent past, causing unease in the force.
The disgruntlement came to the fore recently when the service could not agree on who to man their stand at the Nairobi International Fair.
Whereas in the past the stand has been manned by a specific team, orders from Vigilance House saw a different team put up the stand.
The transfer directive — which targeted officers who have overstayed at their stations in Nairobi — was withdrawn last Tuesday.
“It is nowhere in the law on how long a police officer should stay at a police station.
“Standing orders only say you can stay for a minimum of three years in one station,” a senior police officer told the Nation.
Attempts by the Nation to get a response from the National Police Service on what provoked the mass transfer did not yield any fruits.
The transfer of all traffic police officers in Machakos county was quickly followed by an order by Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i to redeploy all senior officers in Gatundu South.
Dr Matiang’i, who was on a visit of the area following fears of the return of the Mungiki gang, made the announcement at a public rally.
“It is our job to be awake at night so that wananchi sleep peacefully. We are going to comb this place, and we will be hard on these criminals,” said Dr Matiang’i.
Consequently Gatundu South deputy county commissioner, the sub-county police commander, the sub county DCI and the officer commanding station (OCS) were transferred.
More transfers were on the way last week as part of a plan to deal with an upsurge of officers getting involved in crime but it backfired.
Sources within the service said that some senior police officers were vehemently opposed to the transfers as one of the ways of enhancing service delivery.
An emergency meeting was held last week — chaired by Inspector General of Police Hillary Mutyamba and attended by senior officers — following the rise in the number of security officers involved in crime.
Some senior officers have deemed a number of resolutions made at the meeting impractical.
During the meeting, sources said, some senior officers questioned how forcing all officers apart from those working for the Directorate of Criminal Investigations to wear uniforms will help solve crime but they were told that a decision had already been made.
“If there is need to perform an operation and it is considered that conducting it in uniform will complicate its success then the commander will authorise the wearing of plain clothes during the period of the operation and immediately after the operation revert to uniform,” read a directive from the meeting in part.
The ripple effect of this is that SPIV teams across the country will be disbanded.
SPIV is basically a team of not more than 10 officers who are usually relieved of normal police beats to allow them time to pursue complex crimes. Officers in the squad do not don police uniforms.
What has, however, irked some senior officers is that the transfer policy is being implemented when several of them are languishing at Vigilance House without specific duties after being transferred there and not redeployed.
On average, there is a mass transfer per month at the National Police Service. The latest took place on Tuesday when Deputy Inspector General Edward Mbugua moved 34 junior officers from stations across the country.
“Release the following officers to report to their new work stations by October 28. Submit causality returns on departure/arrival,” said the order signed by Boniface Maingi on behalf of the DIG.
However, while junior and mid-level officers are given a chance to serve at different stations in case of a reshuffle, Vigilance House is now considered a deathbed for the careers of senior police officers who fall out of favour or are considered ineffective.
Most of those who earn about Sh187,890 per month have not been assigned work after being transferred to Vigilance House. Among those left without designated offices are former Kenya Airports Police Unit (KAPU) boss Philip Ndolo.
Former Central Regional Commander Gideon Amalla was redeployed to Vigilance House and later the Ministry of Interior but he too “sits in the corridor” with no substantive office.
Former General Service Unit and Kenya Police Training College Commandant William Saiya has been waiting redeployment at the infamous Room 6 at Vigilance House.
Former North Eastern and standard gauge railway police boss Peter Mwanzia Mwania is also yet to be deployed.
But even as these senior officers remain condemned at Vigilance House, several top positions remain vacant.
When the Director of Police Reforms, Senior Assistant Inspector General of Police John Patrick Ochieng, retired in 2018, his replacement was never announced.
Commissioner of Police Jasper Nyauma Ombati has been the acting director of reforms for the last one year.
The Directorate of Transport, a position held by Noor Gabow before he was redeployed to Kenya Police Training College, is vacant.
Another vacant office is that of the Head of Planning, formerly held by AIG Patrick Lumumba who was redeployed as Central Regional Commander.