Beware! That person in police uniform could be an imposter

Wednesday, October 7th, 2020 12:00 |
The new Persian blue police uniform. Photo/PD/FILE

Clothing, especially police uniforms, has a powerful impact on how people are perceived. 

Any person wearing a police uniform can be identified as having a legitimate purpose for carrying a weapon, using force and even trespassing.

However, though these uniforms are exclusively for police use, concerns have lately been raised on how easily the new attire can be acquired even by members of the public, and even criminals.

Last week, our journalists posing as officers went to Kirima House next to Jeevanjee Grounds and ordered for the uniform. 

All the tailor needed was the measurements and the rank of the “officers”. They were then told to collect the uniform after three days. 

The material for police uniform are, however, kept elsewhere and upon placing an order, one of the tailors leaves for an unknown destination and comes back with it.

Trouser and shirt costs Sh3,500 while the long-sleeved jacket retails at Sh3,500.

One of the tailors told the journalists that they get the badges of ranks from the National Youth Service (NYS) and they organise how they reach their clients.

“We have orders from many officers including two sub-county commanders and a Station Commander,” one of the tailors told the journalists.

That is how easy it is to acquire the uniform, which comes with a receipt to ostensibly signify the “authenticity of the deal”.

In the past, thugs in police uniforms have been arrested with several other cases where robberies were linked to criminals donning police uniforms.

A senior officer yesterday told People Daily that some criminals could take advantage of the fact that due to the shortage of the new uniforms, police were directly engaging local tailors for the same.

The source further disclosed that a number of officers have opted to go for “tailor-made new Persian blue uniform because those made by the National Police Service (NPS) at the Forces Equipment are quite expensive.

Takes advantage 

This is contrary to police regulations, and thugs may take advantage of the opportunity to make uniforms for use in advancing their criminal activities.

The business in the manufacture and sale of police uniforms is booming in Nairobi’s downtown... from Luthuli Avenue, River Road, Kirinyaga Road, and Biashara Street to Mfangano Street among others.

The same has also extended to estates such as Kawangware, Huruma, Kariobangi, Umoja, Dandora, Riruta, Githurai, Pipeline and Kangemi.

“Tailors do not do background checks on the customers seeking their services.

All they ask for is the station and rank and a deposit, and you have your uniform,” he said. 

He, however, added there was no law barring officers from taking their uniforms to local tailors. 

“Officers are at liberty to take the uniform to any tailor should there be need,” he said.

Last month, Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei warned that the decision by NPS to allow “free-for-all” manufacture and sale of police uniforms is not only unlawful, but a threat to national security as it could lead to the emergence of police imposters and criminals.

“Tailors are all over the city making police uniforms. This is a serious security threat because criminals are likely to take advantage of the situation to harass and steal from the public,” Cherargei had warned.

So heated was the matter on the floor of the House that Senators Abdullahi Ali (Wajir), Moses Wetang’ula (Bungoma) and Getrude Musuruve (Nominated) warned that the permission to allow local tailors to make police uniforms could increase insecurity in the country.

But Police spokesman Charles Owino denied claims that they had allowed some tailors to make the uniforms, warning that anybody found in possession of the items would be prosecuted.

“The law is very clear that these uniforms are government equipment, and any civilian found making them or being in possession would be dealt with in accordance with the law.

Even the officers who hire the tailors would be punished. Police officers know where the uniforms are manufactured. Any other place is illegal,” said Owino.

Inspector-General of Police Hillary Mutyambai has previously warned tailors and officers against being involved in the manufacture and sale of police uniforms.

Mutyambai while calling for patience in the phased procurement of new uniforms for police officers, said production of the items is based on availability of resources to accommodate the huge number of officers involved.

Police regulations state: “When articles of uniform and equipment are first issued, the issuing officers will ensure that they are properly fitted. Minor adjustments may be carried out locally when necessary.”

Another senior officer warned that people tend to assume that anyone in police uniform is an officer and may allow them into their premises.

“The police uniform is recognisable and as a result gives a sense of comfort to most people.

Officers do not personally know the locals in their respective areas but everyone knows they are part of the police by their uniform,” the officer said.

The rush to acquire new uniforms by even engaging ordinary tailors was as a result of the directive issued a fortnight ago that officers will only report on duty in the new uniform. 

The directive requires that all officers wear the Persian blue uniform.

Police commanders, especially in Nairobi, were last week directed to surrender junior officers’ old uniforms to the Central stores in Nairobi’s Industrial Area.

Old clothes 

Directive was given to the commanders in-charge of sub-county stations, traffic, depots, law courts and all section heads.

Uniforms withdrawn include the old KPS blue uniforms, the khaki uniforms won by members of inspectorate and the gazetted officers and those of the former Administration Police Service (APS) officers who were integrated into the Kenya Police Service (KPS) in early 2019.

“Please ensure that you complete a kit withdrawal certificate in respect of the withdrawn items and update the officers’ kit cards. All extra uniforms must also be surrendered,” the directive.

Although Mutyambai has insisted the old uniforms are still in use, some commanders such as the Nairobi police boss Rashid Yakub have warned their juniors not to adorn the old clothes.

“All officers must be in the new medium blue uniform, except for the formed-up units who have their own order of dressing.

In addition, all officers are cautioned against mixing uniforms or wearing non-uniform items alongside the uniform.

Failure to comply with the instructions will attract serious disciplinary action,” Yakub had warned his juniors in a signal dispatched mid last month.

To ensure the old uniform is not used for other unintended purposes, the police headquarters directed that the old uniform be disposed of to prevent its circulation in the country. 

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