Service restless about AP cops linked to crime

Monday, January 18th, 2021 00:00 |
Administration Police officers. PD/File

Security chiefs in the country are quietly reconsidering the future of about 23,900 Administration Police (AP) officers who were formally absorbed into the Kenya Police Service under the National Police Service restructuring programme in 2019.

In the last three days, at least three AP officers have been arrested and charged with serious offences including murder and defilement.

On Wednesday, AP Constable Eliud Cheptoo of Gorgor police post was arrested and charged in court with defilement.

The officer had defiled a 16-year-old female student of Abosi Secondary School in Sotik, Bomet County.

Just a day earlier, another officer was arrested for shooting dead a teacher over a Sh550 beer debt at Kakong trading centre in Kainuk, Turkana South Sub-County.

Constable Wilfred Too had a fight with the deceased, Susan Emure 34, proprietor of the club and a teacher at Kaptir Secondary School.

The officer was hit with a stone and he rushed to the station and picked a G3 rifle. He then proceeded to the house of the woman and shot her three times on the head before proceeding back to the police post.

Turkana County Police Commander Samwel Ndanyi said the officer was arrested immediately and is expected to be charged in court with murder once the investigation is complete.

“The incident occurred when the officer visited the pub at Kaakong’ shopping centre when they argued with the owner over unpaid debt leading to the shooting,” Ndanyi said.

The surge in criminal activities by the AP officers is partly attributed to the police merger that broadened their mandate in policing.

Teething problems

The 2019 restructuring of the National Police Service saw about 23,900 AP officers formally join their Kenya Police Service counterparts. 

More than 100 AP posts and camps were converted into police stations and posts, while some police divisions, stations and camps were closed to avoid overlapping mandates.

One of the advantages of this merger was increased physical police presence.

Ordinarily, the inevitable teething problems of this merger were the challenges attributed to disparities in the nature of training, open rivalry and disaffection between the two services.

But now the service faces another major challenge where there is an increase in cases where AP officers have in the recent past been linked to criminal activities.

The AP service has also been linked to most major bank heists, including the Sh72 million and Sh14.5 million heists where most of the suspects arrested were AP officers.

Though there has also been a surge in criminal cases involving their regular counterparts, investigations reveal there is also a substantial increase in such cases involving AP officers.

Some of the crimes being investigated include murder, robbery, extortion, corruption and assault among others.

Concerns have also been raised on the manner in which they perform their duties.

The Police headquarters and the National Police Service Commission (NPSC) had directed that all the officers be subjected to further training to effectively execute their mandates which include, among other functions, the investigation of crimes.

Though all officers were to be trained, very few have benefited from this training. Concerns have also been raised on the duration of the course.

Last month, Constable Jared Omboga Makambe of the AP’s Critical Infrastructure Police Unit was arrested and charged in court in connection to the robbery at the Muthaiga residence of billionaire-industrialist Dr Manu Chandaria.

About eight robbers stormed the house and robbed the family of Sh700,000 and jewellery worth Sh600,000.

A commissioner with NPSC, who sought anonymity, however, maintained the training of both services were almost similar except that the KPS have a course on police station management.

Former long-serving provincial administrator Joseph Kaguthi, says it was wrong in the first place to merge the two services with diametrically different training and historical background.

According to Kaguthi, who rose through the ranks from a District Officer before he retired as a Permanent Secretary, the two services were created for specific different roles, and hence would require adequate time and training to merge.

“Though the merger has already happened as a government policy, it will take time before APs who were absorbed into KPS adjust and cope with the high demands required,” Kaguthi told People Daily.

Kaguthi blames the current happenings on competition and sibling rivalry between the two service units, whereby any small incident is either amplified out of proportion and failure by the commanders to address the grievances of their juniors.

“How come that some of these incidents were unheard of before the two units were merged?

Though there is nothing that can be done at the moment since the process has already taken place, the authorities need to re-evaluate it and see where the rains started beating us,” Kaguthi observed.

Another former long-serving provincial administrator, who is currently serving as a chairman of a State corporation, while speaking on condition of anonymity, called for the retraining of the APs, who have been absorbed in KPS.

“Unlike their training at Embakasi, which stresses on combat, the KPS training at Kiganjo is rather thorough on law, ethics, investigations, deterring crime, prosecution and human relationship skills.

The APs should have been taken for retraining before being absorbed,” said the former administrator.

In the case of the General Service Unit (GSU) officers whose initial training is purely paramilitary, they are supposed to undergo training of at least three months before they join the regular police.

NPS Director of Communication Charles Owino said the service will focus on training the officers who may have challenges in delivering on their mandate.

“Most AP officers are disciplined and well trained. Any other training is just to enable them perform their duties better,” Owino said.

He, however, dismissed the reports, saying they were isolated cases.

Initial AP training does not include police procedures theory, station management, traffic, among other courses.

In March last year, the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) recommended an AP officer attached to Waithaka Police Post in Nairobi County be charged with murder of a conductor and another, Constable Patrick Nyapara with the fatal shooting of Christine Maonga.

Bank heists 

Another officer, AP Constable Gachau, formerly attached to North Horr, Marsabit County has been charged in court with the murder of a Kenyatta University graduate.

Several AP officers have also been arrested and charged with bank heists. Among them was the Sh14.5 million Barclays (Absa) Bank heist where APs Constables John Makabongo and George Njoroge, both attached to the Embakasi Rapid Deployment Unit were arrested.

In May last year, three  former AP officers attached to Kamukunji police station, were arrested after they were captured on CCTV releasing one of the two Ugandan suspects, Martin Wasike, accused of kidnapping and possibly murdering a police officer.

Corporal Vacity Kimeres, Constables Stephen Auko and Elias Koome, were charged with aiding the escape of a prisoner, contrary to Section 124 of the Penal Code.

“An analysis of the CCTV footage between May 13 and 14,2020 clearly captured the three officers who were on night shift releasing the suspect at around 5.05 am.

The release was deliberate, and without permission from the station commander,” a senior detective said.

Wasike, a Kenyan; Phoebe Anindo and another Ugandan. Shariff Wanabwa, had been charged in court for allegedly kidnapping Constable Abel Musati on January 19.

Some critics argue that the rains began beating the service sometimes in 2005 when then Vice-President Moody Awori recruited thousands of rehabilitated street children into the National Youth Service.

Some of the children were later recruited as APs and taken to the Embakasi Administration Police Training Centre.

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