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February 23, 2019

What Waki said about police

Police officers beating up youth in Yumbis, Garissa
Police officers beating up youth in Yumbis, Garissa

Like all large institutions, the Kenya Police Service is confronted with a host of challenges stemming from a dynamic and demanding environment. At times, fundamental change must be made to address new challenges and respond to the evolving and changing needs of Kenyan society.

Built over years of tradition and greatly influenced by British colonial convention, the entrenched mandate, principals and functions of the Kenya Police continue to influence its delivery of service and interactions with Kenyan society.

The experience of this Commission has shown that the Kenyan Police are not always in a position to identify and address problems regarding their service delivery. This is why an independent examination of policing police is critical and must be undertaken with some urgency.

In spite of the development and production of a strategic plan the Kenya police have been slow to accept that police reform is necessary and are reluctant to accept that the public and others outside the police have a role to play in shaping police policy and reforms. At the heart of the debate is deciding what philosophy of policing the Kenya Police and the public desire.

The Commission has been in the unique position of having heard from many members of the public, government officials, and from the police themselves. It therefore brings a much needed perspective to the public debate about the current status of the Kenya police and the issues and challenges it faces not only in relation to post election violence but its overall structure and ability to deliver day to day policing services to Kenya.

In determining key recommendations the Commission took account of a number of key pieces of work signalled by the Government as a priority for action in the medium and long term.

Specifically identified issues for the Police in agenda item 4 under Constitutional and Institutional reform are:

Constitutional review to establish an independent police commission

Review and definition of the role of the Administration Police

Review laws and issues related to security and policing (including the independent complaints commission, citizen oversight of police services, enhanced information disclosures, human resource management and capacity building) to make them consistent with modern democratic norms (6 months)

Finalisation and rollout of the National Security Policy to enable the relevant sectors to develop their sectoral policies

Recruit and train more police officers to raise the police – to population ratio to UN standard (by 2012)

There are also definitive reforms of the State Security Agencies encompassed within the Kenya 2030 plan and specific targets articulated in the First Medium Term Plan 2008-2012425 as well as the recently announced civilian oversight board.426

The Commission also recognised attempts to initiate reforms by the Kenya Police Service. In their strategic plan key shortcomings relating to service delivery, the absence of strong institutional mechanisms for holding police accountable to citizens and the law, and the overlapping functions of having two police agencies are identified as issues for resolution.


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