Undercover patrols banned, cops must wear uniforms and drive official vehicles

Insistence on uniforms and official marked cars to check rampant extortion, other crimes

In Summary
  • Directive aimed at containing rampant extortion, brutality and in some cases extrajudicial killings. 
  • Police must wear uniforms and cannot use unmarked vehicles on patrol.
A Toyota Probox.
Image: FILE

Nairobi police have issued a directive sending shivers down the spines of crooked cops.

The aim is to clean up the force, end widespread extortion, harassment, brutality, theft and worse.

Nairobi police boss Augustine Nthumbi issued the directive on Monday to check crime among police officers and warned that violators will be sternly punished.

He said on Wednesday the sweeping decision was taken in response to citizen complaints about police harassment, extortion, brutality, theft and other offences.

Ntumbi has banned:

Use of private vehicles and unmarked vehicles by police; Probox cars have been popular. 

Any patrols or operations outside Nairobi, their area of jurisdiction.

Arbitrary arrests and raids on bars unless police are dressed in Persian blue uniforms and under the command of an Inspector of Police.

No plainclothes, uniforms a must.

“Stern departmental action will be taken against any person contravening this directive," Nthumbi said in a memo. 

Police insiders said the move aims to contain rampant extortion, brutality, theft and even extrajudicial killings.

“The use of such [unmarked, private] vehicles by officers in civilian attire has now been prohibited and as such will be deemed as illegal operations and extortion, which are criminal," the police boss said.

The directive said not all officers will be allowed to raid bars, check trading licences and make arrests.

For instance, the directive said Quick Response Unit (QRU) officers in jungle uniforms will not be allowed to make arrests or visit bars and restaurants.

“Policing needs to be done professionally. Station commanders must be ready to explain why private vehicles are used in policing matters,” the commander added.

He said some officers had taken advantage of measures introduced to good faith and were using them to abuse the public they were sworn to protect.

Some authorised police units can use private or unmarked cars in their investigations for security reasons. They do prevent their detection, ensure their safety and enhance their investigations.

The Internal Affairs Unit has received many complaints of police raiding bars and harassing patrons, sometimes citing violations of Covid-19 masking and distancing protocols.

For instance, on August 11, police officers from Karen Police Station raided a restaurant in Karen Shopping Centre.

They were captured on CCTV collecting alcohol from shelves and later claimed they were exhibits.

Police have been accused of high-handedness, which sometimes has turned fatal.

Some officers cross from their jurisdictions to others for illegal operations. The rules require commanders in Nairobi and other jurisdictions to be informed in advance to avoid conflict and confusion.

(Edited by V. Graham)

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