Nyanza regional AP commander Yakub Rashid yesterday denied claims of disbanding the Quick Response Team in Kisumu.
Rashid said the officers have only been redeployed and a new team from Nairobi brought in.
“Nobody has disbanded the QRT. Those who were in the team have been transferred. In fact, new ones have deployed to improve effectiveness,” Rashid said on the phone.
There has been an uproar over claims that Rashid disbanded the team which has received massive praise from the public for restoring order in Kisumu.
Residents said disbandment of the team will lead to a rise in crime.
Police sources said the unit was disbanded several months ago with majority of its officers redeployed to neighbouring counties.
Kisumu City Residents’ Voice Association chairman Audi Ogada said the QRT performed well and ought to have been empowered to strengthen security.
“We all agree with the work the unit has done in Kisumu despite of a few challenges. We are appealing to the state not to disband the team,” Ogada said.
He said the team rushed to the rescue of residents during robberies and deadly attacks.
“We know there are cartels in the service and unscrupulous traders who do not want the team in place. Residents fully back the team,” Ogada said.
Those in distress reached out for help through mobile phones.
The team was formed by former AP regional boss Joseph Keitany to strengthen security in the lakeside city.
It had 35 officers tasked with tackling crime with special skills in detecting bombs and rescuing carjacking victims.
The team also had eight snipers as the government stepped up efforts in addressing rising crime amidst terrorism threats.
The formation of the QRT was followed by the establishment of Cobra Squad by former Nyanza regional police boss Willy Lugusa.
The move created rivalry between QRT and the Cobra squad with the former accusing the later of abetting crime.
“We are aware the elite AP unit would apprehend suspects and hand them over for interrogation, But they were later released,” Ogada said.
Former Nyalenda A MCA Jacktone Onunga said improved security is key to creating employment opportunities by attracting investors.
Onunga said the QRT officers ensured safety of residents and their property.