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It is suicidal for a country to politicise police service



It is suicidal for a country to politicise police service

There is a famous saying that, before you admonish the police, first make peace with the criminals.

Kenya’s police is guided by the National Police Service Act, 2011, which outlines the composition, functions and powers of the service.

The drafters of the constitution were of the assumption that the Police Service will be autonomous in the management of its affairs. Police typically are responsible for maintaining public order and safety, enforcing the law, and preventing, detecting, and investigating criminal activities.

The Act provides that heads of all overt and covert units have the autonomy to make decisions that, they believe, are not only constitutional but also have the best interest of the nation. That may be how and why the SSU and other crack units were created, dramatically cutting criminality down to size.

The deployments and redeployments of senior security officers, especially police, have been received with mixed reactions.

Some security analysts belong to the school of thought that a new broom sweeps better, but others believe it’s purely cronyism and cold revenge. In his inaugural speech, President William Ruto alleged killer gangs amongst the police. He disbanded SSU and a few of its officers were arrested and are now in court on criminal charges.

Before we mob-lynch police subunits, we should probably re-examine the entire criminal justice system. Some analysts claim some of the specialised sub-units fill the void created by the Judiciary as it allegedly releases suspects who not only pose danger to the arresting officers but also the whole nation—such as terror and hard-core suspects.

Task force

Recently, the President formed a task force for police issues. Some pundits say that will bring professionalism and motivation. But others believe it is a PR gimmick to cover low morale. Any time some politicians are given an audience, they pour vitriol and ridicule on police officers. Some have been caught by the media threatening the police with sacking, transfers and even jail just to please the crowd.

The biggest challenges to law enforcement are human resource retention, negative perception surrounding law enforcement, fatigue, poor terms and conditions, poor administration and logistics support, improper provisions for family support, nepotism in regards to promotion, missions, transfer, termination, postings and deployment.

But there is also post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), caused by work pressure, lack of a coping mechanism, alcoholism, financial burdens, frustration by bosses, feeling of unfairness, death and injury while on duty.

We don’t have to reinvent the wheel but just deal with the issues above. Suggested solutions would be an increased budget, a change of the training syllabus, politicians’ respect for the police and the IG having autonomy in restructuring the service.

Don’t politicise security, develop clear policies and standing orders for posting, transfer, promotion, termination, recruitment and deployment, strict accountability for budgets, clear responsibility within ranks for violation of the Police Act and, lastly, accept that PTSD is real.

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