Cops’ conduct raises doubts about reforms

Wednesday, November 13th, 2019 04:18 |
University students on strike. Photo/File
Jkuat students protest over increased cases of insecurity around Juja town. PD/ MATHEW NDUNG’U

The brand of brutality meted out by police officers on students of Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology on Monday has no place in Kenya or any civilised society.

While responding to rioting students, the officers from Juja Police Station did not only use excessive force, but also displayed the kind of cruelty that not even criminals should be subjected to.

One video which went viral on social media shows a student being wrestled to the ground, clobbered, kicked and stepped on by police officers.

Some officers reportedly broke into a hostel and lobbed teargas canisters into student rooms.

Yesterday, Inspector General of Police Hillary Mutyambai said the four officers caught on camera unleashing terror on the students had been interdicted.  

Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i had earlier said he  had observed the events at JKUAT with concern and promised that firm action would be taken against the savage officers.

While the response of the IG and Matiang’i to the incident are welcome, Kenyans would be forgiven if they took their assurances that the culprits will be punished with a pinch of salt. 

That is because we have been there before. The authorities have often promised to ensure officers who visit terror on citizens face the full force of the law. But in most cases, they get away with a slap on the wrist. 

What Kenyans are demanding is not piecemeal approach to addressing indiscipline in the police service. The stark truth is that many of our officers have gone rogue. When they are not beating protestors into a pulp, they are engaging in violent crime or being hired as hit men to violently settle private disputes, including domestic ones. 

As for corruption, the police long time ago patented the Number One position in graft perception indexes. Soliciting, nay, demanding bribes now seems to be part of the job description of many police officers. 

Clearly, many past attempts to change the service for the better have not yielded the desired results. There are far too many cases of malpractice to justify the resources and time invested in police reforms.

It is upon Matiang’i and Mutyambai to have another look at the reform train and decide whether it is moving in the right direction. Our assessment is that it is not.

More on News