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Parliament should urgently rescue public from thugs wearing uniform

Saturday September 14 2019

police officers

Rogue officers continue to terrorise the public despite police reforms being introduced. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

KWENDO OPANGA
By KWENDO OPANGA
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Parliament should constitute a committee to  start an independent and thorough review of reforms of the Kenya Police Service and chart a new chapter in the transformation of the service. Why?

One, the police is a central feature in the face of Kenya, a critical element in its governance and pivot in enforcement of the rule of law.

Two, there is no law when policemen and policewomen violate the law. The service exists to enforce the law, prevent crime, apprehend criminals and arraign them.

ESCALATING

Three, increasingly police are fatally shooting colleagues or civilians or committing suicide or all three. This points to a serious institutional problem that calls for serious intervention and redress.

Four, the regularity with which police are committing violent crime, and worse, of the robbery with violence variety, points to a slide into a criminal enterprise.

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That several police officers were last week accused of robbing a bank and of trafficking in counterfeit currency are the latest in this alarming and escalating trajectory.

Five, arising from the above I ask again, who do the public turn to when the gang is in uniform? When the criminals are police, there is a breakdown of law and order and a headlong descent into anarchy.

Witness anarchy. One, regular police officers on duty in Eldoret respond to cries of help and commotion nearby. Some of them suddenly realise that the fleeing suspects are their Administration Police colleagues.

Two, victims of robbery go to a police station to report their ordeal and momentarily freeze: The man behind the desk is the very same fellow who robbed and tortured them at gunpoint. The difference is that he was now at his day job.

SANITISED

Three, armed Administration Police officers storm a police station to free their boss arrested by their colleagues for breaking the traffic code. And armed police officers storm a station to free their unit colleagues arrested for taking bribes.

Four, police and prison wardens hire out standard issue firearms to criminals and rent out unmarked cars to the underworld for use in crime. When criminal and protector unite, the public suffer a double whammy.

Five, and worse, in the 2016 edition of the Economic Survey, the government conceded that more than 34 per cent (24,647) of the 72,490 crimes reported to police were committed by serving officers.

The 2019 Survey reports that there was a 102 per cent jump in 2018 in the number of crimes involving the police. Bear in mind that these government figures are not only sanitised, but they are also provided by the service.

Last, nobody knows how to protect a colleague from arrest, let alone prosecution, and how to contaminate, falsify, interfere or cause evidence to disappear, and to intimidate witnesses, better than the police.

SUFFOCATING

Put differently, nobody knows how to connive, organise and mobilise to defeat justice better than the police. Which is why nothing is as insidious and as heinous, as corrosive and as suffocating as commission of crime by police officers.

If you are trained to prevent crime, you are conversant with the dark arts of commission of it without being detected. You know how to make it increasingly difficult to be detected and or escape arrest, and if arraigned, how to escape conviction.

If police can hire out public assets to criminals; if they are involved in crime, then, they are available for hire for commission of crime. If the thugs are in uniform, civilians will be tempted to arm and protect themselves against criminals, criminal officers and perceived enemies.

Nothing better paints the service as a criminal enterprise than the case of the so-called imposter Joshua Waiganjo. Impostors don't don uniform and attend high profile and high security functions and mingle with the top echelons of the service.

SYNTHETIC ANGER

Waiganjo worked as kanda ya moko (errand boy) for the higher ups at Vigilance House. He was known as such at the highest level and treated preferentially by those carrying out the orders of the higher ups at Vigilance in the provinces.

Back to square one. Who will rescue the public from the thugs in uniform? It is not the Inspector General; he belongs to the gang. He will protect it privately before displaying synthetic anger for the public.  It is a fit-for-purpose legal and professional instrument and dispensation to whip Vigilance House onto the straight and narrow of modern policing.  Hurry up, Parliament. The ball is squarely in your court.

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