Police conduct raises doubts about reforms
In the past few days, there have been disturbing reports on the conduct of police officers which raise concern about the much vaunted reforms at the National Police Service.
One was the apparent disregard for a court order releasing Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria on bail and the teargassing of his colleagues at a police station, was most unfortunate and painted not just the police, but also the government, in bad light.
The second is the handling of lynching of a Kitui teacher. The issue was left to morph into a matter of rumours on what could have been the cause of the killing when police could have immediately issued a clear statement on what happened.
Though there was immediate arrests and suspects arraigned, the teachers’ employer acted on wrong information to withdraw its staff from the school, citing insecurity.
Why was it so difficult for the officers who were handling the investigations to relay the facts as they were to save the Teachers Service Commission, teachers unions and even the public from embarrassing reactions?
Without appearing to make a blanket condemnation of the police, it is a matter-of-fact that some of them have portrayed the service in bad light.
For many years, the service has earned the ignominy of being the most corrupt public agency in the corruption perception index conducted by respectable organisations.
Some argue that it takes two to tango and that the public that so readily condemns the police as corrupt has itself been too willing partner in propagating the vice.
The other dark side of the service that has dogged it for decades is its brutality on the citizens that it is supposed to serve and protect by ensuring law and order.
Whether it is a question of capacity and refusal to awaken to the realities of the 2010 Constitution is matter that Kenyans need to interrogate at a time when we taking of the rebirth of the country through the Building Bridges Initiative.
The service must get back to the reform path to earn public trust and respect. It must not be seen as a instrument of terror on those it should serve.
The police can only change its image if it loses the tag of impunity and respect the law.