Reservists still needed in rural areas, they know terrain

Chief of Police Reservists Robert Kitur/ FILE
Chief of Police Reservists Robert Kitur/ FILE

The question of whether we still need the Kenya Police Reserve depends on where you are.

The rationale behind KPRs is that there were areas Regular Police could not penetrate. For example, residents of Parklands, Nairobi, decided to have KPRs because they could take care of their own.

Even today in some urban areas, they can be well-utilised because in some places police are not available easily, they take too long to arrive. When KPRs live in a community, they will be the first responders.

But now that we are moving the Regular Police from the police lines to integrate with communities, the issue of KPRs does not arise anymore. First responders will be the Regular Police because they will be present in estates.

Rural areas are a different ballgame. In Baringo, Kapedo and Endebess where we have cattle rusting, in Northeastern where the border is long and porous porous, and Regular Police cannot cover the area. This is where the government has resorted to recruiting KPR to supplement police numbers.

If we properly recruit, train and motivate KPRs, then in areas where cattle rustling is still rife, we still need them because we don't have enough policemen.

The advantage of KPRs is that as locals, they know the terrain very well, they know the problems because they, themselves, are victims of insecurity in those areas.

So you find they have become more effective and more efficient, compared with normal police who are deployed for an operation. If a Regular Policeman from Western is deployed to Kapedo, he won't be effective because he doesn't know the terrain or the local language.

So KPRs come handy because of their local knowledge, they know the criminal within the area and they can leading the police to their hiding places.

So I believe that in urban areas, KPRs have outlived their usefulness and police rely more on informers. But in those areas of banditry, cattle rustling and terrorism, there are few police on the ground.

I think we can boost their numbers using KPR. But KPRs should be properly recruited, trained, equipped and receive some reimbursement.

Right now that isn't happening. They are not motivated.

The security expert spoke to the Star