In spite of the police service being one of the most indispensable
public service for national prosperity, through fighting all
categories of crimes, keeping law and order and protecting people’s
lives and properties, the performance of the police has been under
severe attack for sometime now.  There are all types of public
complaints. From corruptions, unprofessionalism in dealing with
members of the public and crimes, extra-judicial killings, lacking
public trust, to outright indiscipline where in less than three years
we note with grief 15 dedicated police officers being killed by their
own colleagues. Latest are the two officers tragically shot dead in
March by a fellow policeman, Constable Martin Mutwiri at Naro Moru
police station.
Of course, the Government has responded to the public outrage. One of
these responses includes Judge Philip Ransley’s Taskforce which
recommended far reaching reforms in the Kenya police and
Administration police.  Some of the reforms are constitutionalized.
Curriculum and training policy changes and extending training periods
for police recruits to 15 months and the cadets up to 21 months,
apparently are part of other reforms  aimed at making Kenya Police
world class, comparable only with the best, and satisfy deservingly
high expectations  and pride of the Kenyan people.
However, what is being discounted is that problems with our police are
not so much with training needs as it is with institutional
constraints. Police do not operate in vacuum. They are bound by
national laws, internal standard operating procedures and work in a
complex arena, with many budgetary resource limitations and social
systems of accountability.  These are the internal and external
institutional matrixes that have enabling and constraining effects on
the performance of the police.
When for instance, new young police officers who have just graduated
from the college after long, vigorous training, assume their duties,
they will be confronted by their superiors with a time tested, iron-
wall of service culture,” Forget about the academy and your
certificates. These are how things are done here”, attitude.  Through
both aggressive and subliminal socialization, within no time, the
young police officers will get reality check and melt into their new
environment.  That way, if we are not careful, all police reforms will
always remain “business as usual”, non-starter.
Whereas the constitutional provisions of National Police Service and
National Police Service Commission will go along way redesigning and
re-branding the police service, we should be alert to the fact that
significant change will be bottom up, evolutionary, take time, five to
ten years to prove themselves and gain general acceptance.  The
challenges are how to overcome institutional barriers and align the
Kenya Police’s age old culture and its present reform strategies with
the demand and expectations of the public under the new constitution.
We only hope that those Kenyans who will assume the new offices in the
police service commission will be eager beavers, perspective thinkers,
who shall be equal to the tasks. Once started, the momentum of reform
must never be allowed to falter, even little.

Billow Khalid

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