National Police Service: Transfer of police no cure for inefficacy
There is a tendency in the National Police Service to move officers away from areas where issues spring up. The latest such transfers took place in Mombasa where sweeping changes, including shifting Regional Police Commander, have been effected by the Inspector General following what appears to be bungling or laxity in dealing with the drugs menace and criminal gangs.
But such lateral movements often leave Kenyans puzzled, if not confused. True, the recent wave of daring attacks by thugs in Mombasa, must have left both the command and general policing cadre with egg on the face.
What Kenyans would like to see conclusively addressed are the reasons behind real failures and how they can be corrected. If the police bosses are worried about command efficacy, how does transfer of officers cure the performance deficits?
There is a raft of guidelines for the police service to reinforce its ethical conduct and professionalism. Recent appraisals and reinforcement of police code was supposed to be transformative.
When a legislator from the Coast region says that what is required in the war against the drugs menace in the region is not the arrest of bhang smokers but a crackdown on narcotics barons, he is making a statement of wrong priorities or compromised enforcement.
The image of the police service has long been tainted by accusations of graft. There is no gainsaying that with compromised security agency, the quest for security and justice is doomed.
And as much as there are many dedicated officers inclined to put duty above all, the overall ethical environment is not encouraging.
The other explanation for perceived failures is that for an agency from which so much is expected, too little is put in terms of resources. Investment in tooling, motivation and facilitation leaves a lot to be desired. With such terms and conditions of service, police efficacy can at best only be average.
But the police also shoot themselves in the foot when they fail to incorporate strategies which can improve their relationship with the public. To be more effective, they should be seen as protectors and not violators of citizens’ rights.
As they opt for short cuts, officers will continue to inspire fear and mistrust among Kenyans, thus eroding chances of strengthening their effectiveness.