Inspector General Joseph Boinnet and DCI chief George Kinoti are battling over pending reforms that would strip detectives of their rank and require them to report to uniformed officers.
The two openly crossed swords at a meeting at DCI headquarters on Kiambu Road last Saturday.
The session was called to contain a falling out between uniformed officers and their plainclothes colleagues over changes instituted by the National Police Service Commission.
The leadership and reporting changes are among far-reaching reforms also involving a dramatic change in uniform to non-militaristic blue, better housing, a new reporting structure for the Administration, Traffic and other police formations.
Kinoti is said to be pushing for review of the changes announced by President Uhuru Kenyatta on September 13, requiring the more or less independent DCI officers to report to regional police commanders. Technically, the DCI chief is personally expected to report to the IG.
Yesterday, Kinoti did not comment on the discussions.
Boinnet has remained adamant, however, that the streamlined more cohesive structure announced by the President would not be altered.
Several persons attending the Saturday meeting said Boinnet urged the DCI to find alternative ways to redeploy senior officers who fear the changes will see them lose their rank, offices and status.
The Administrative Police, commanded by DIG Noor Gabow, will now focus on protective and border security and combat cattle rusting and banditry.
The regular police under command of DIG Edward Mbugua will focus on public safety and security.
The Director of Criminal Investigations (DCI) will focus on criminal investigations.
Most contested is the plan for DCI chiefs of all ranks to report to new commanders, the uniformed police, whom many consider inferior.
In the current set up, the office of the DCI is semi-autonomous, meaning its officers report directly to their seniors in the same department.
Tension has been brewing at the DCI after Uhuru made the announcement at the Kenya School of Government. All senior police chiefs save for Kinoti were present at the event attended by civil society groups and diplomats.
Kinoti has been pushing for a review of the ranking system to enable DCI chiefs, especially at top levels, to maintain the ranks of AIG.
He has proposed that Regional Police Commanders be promoted to the rank of Senior Assistant Inspector General of Police (SAIG).
The Police Service Board, mandated to look into matters of ranking, objects to the proposal.
On October 17, Kinoti called a crisis meeting attended by all senior DCI commanders. Top detectives opposed what they called loss of prestigious ranks and offices.
Currently, the highest ranking DCI commander in the field (Regional DCI chief) holds the rank of assistant Inspector General of police (AIG).
In the proposed changes, the regional police commander would be elevated to AIG.
The DCI commander operating under the regional police commander would hold a lower rank, possibly commissioner of police.
Lowering the ranks rankles most with DCI chiefs who want to retain their status of AIG.
This means, for instance, that a regional police commander in Nairobi will hold the rank of AIG, while the DCI chief in the same area will be a mere commissioner of police.
At the earlier meeting, Kinoti promised he would raise the issue with his seniors and possibly President Kenyatta.
Yesterday, highly placed multiple sources familiar with the Saturday meeting and ongoing discussions said Kinoti — who has since briefed the IG on the grievances — introduced the matter afresh and asked Boinnet to address the fears.
“He (Kinoti) said he had read an evil hand in the entire changes that will see the DCI fall under the uniformed police chiefs,” a top police officer told the Star on condition of anonymity.
“Many of us were shocked but we knew we would get a favourable answer from the IG,” a police chief said.
When the IG gave his response, he was categorical that the DCI will henceforth fall under the uniformed command.
However, to pacify dissenters, the IG directed that the phase-out of senior AIG officers will be conducted gradually.
Thus, regional DCI chiefs approaching retirement will be allowed to retain their rank until they leave. They will be replaced with officers holding lower ranks than their uniformed counterparts.
The IG also directed Kinoti to establish other police units at headquarters to absorb senior officers transferred from the field.
DCI chiefs are also alarmed by the proposed reporting structure requiring them to answer to a regional police commander.
In the past, the DCI chief in a region’s counties and even in police stations, have been independent and only answered to their DCI chiefs.
Under the new command structure, the DCI chief, will report to the head of police in the command area. Thus, at the county level the DCI chief will answer to the police commander who is not a DCI officer.
AIGs are commanders of regions and directors of DCI formations such as the DCI training school and the Anti-Terrorism Police Unit (ATPU).
Already, a proposal on how new ranks of seniormost police field commanders, to be known as regional police commanders, has been finalised and awaits implementation.
There will be eight regional police commanders under whose command all police matters will fall.
The proposal is to have four officers from the Regular police and three slots from Administration Police, while the DCI will have one candidate in the top echelons.
The DCI officer to be named a regional commander, together with the seven others, will report directly to the Police Deputy Inspector General Edward Mbugua.
At the end of the Saturday meeting, it was resolved that the DCI would present the grievances to higher authorities.
“The boss (DCI) has ruled that at the moment we should work without any competition as he seeks audience with higher authorities,” a senior police official said.