Inspector-General of Police Joseph Boinnet has ordered commanders in the Rift Valley to vet reservists afresh.
Mr Boinnet said the law is clear on civilians possessing firearms and directed that police reservists who do not meet the criteria surrender their weapons.
“We appreciate the good work the reservists are doing. However, we cannot condone any lawlessness. The guns they were given are meant to protect civilians,” Mr Boinnet said when he opened a peace conference at AIC Cheptebo Centre in Elgeyo-Marakwet on Sunday.
During the forum, some elders and residents accused the police reservists of colluding with bandits to harass locals.
The elders from West Pokot, Elgeyo-Marakwet and Baringo counties said some reservists are former bandits and are misusing their guns to terrorise residents.
“The government should listen to the elders and the community. Some reservists were issued with firearms when they already knew how to use them. Have we ever asked ourselves where they learnt this?" Mr Wilson Tonaba, an elder, asked.
The elders hit out at security agencies for not acting despite being given leads on banditry and cattle rustling.
Before the meeting began, the elders performed rituals and cursed bandits.
Kerio Valley Development Authority MD David Kimosop said elders play a crucial role in promoting peace.
“The North Rift is endowed with resources but security has been a challenge,” he said.
At the same time, the service denied reports that it is secretly arming reservists in parts of the country.
In a series of tweets, police said those recruited are well known to locals.
So far, around 11,000 reservists have been hired in the North Rift and northeast Kenya, leading to a decline in banditry and cattle rustling, the service tweeted yesterday.
“We take great exception to the insinuation that the recruitment of reservists is linked to politics. As part of reforms, we plan to raise the number of officers in cattle rustling-prone areas,” it said.
Additional reporting by Brian Okinda.