Third Eye

Ipoa should up its investigative game

Wednesday, December 8th, 2021 12:43 |
Ipoa chairperson Anne Makori addresses the press yesterday on excesses by police officers. Photo/PD/JOHN OCHIENG

Benson Imbatu was clearly a troubled man.  He went on a rampage and in its wake six innocent civilians were dead before turning the gun on himself.

It is obvious he was not in the right frame of mind when he drove home at 2am and snuffed out the life of his girlfriend before killing the other five men.

It was not clear what the trigger was but going by a past case, Imbatu’s mental health was not in the right shape. In April, Imbatu confronted a girl who was filming him and his colleague arresting a man in Nairobi.

Imbatu; incensed, slapped the girl as he attempted to snatch the phone; a scuffle ensued and according to the girl’s family he fatally shot the girl’s brother.

The Independent Policing Oversight Authority (Ipoa) launched investigations into the fatal shooting of Nicholas Lifede. The matter is still pending before Ipoa.

Imbatu has been performing his normal duties as an officer, which include being armed, eight months after he was fingered for killing an innocent man.

Whereas one is presumed innocent until proven guilty, the eight months Ipoa has taken to inconclusively deal with the matter, is long enough to have had the officer perform other duties without access to a firearm.

The options are many: He could have been suspended pending the investigations, Ipoa could have limited itself to a certain time frame to ensure if indeed Imbatu, had issues in his life that drove him to commit the crime, then steps would have been taken to help him cope.

Ipoa’s core function is to investigate deaths caused by police officers, among other things. It therefore baffles that it can take eight months to come up with even preliminary findings that warrant action.

The relations between the police service and Ipoa have been adversarial; for obvious reasons. Police claim they have internal mechanisms to deal with such complaints but Ipoa says the public cannot trust the service to investigate its own.

However, if the relations were complimentary, then such investigations would be done in a speedier manner and maybe actions such as Imbatu’s would have been avoided.

Of equal importance is, the service needs to identify mental issues among its officers before such a callous crime is committed. Let’s pull together to have a safe society.

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