Boinnet defends Baby Pendo Killers in candid quick-fire session

1. During your tenure as the Inspector General, you presided over the merger of the Kenya Police Service and the Administration Police Service. What has been your experience in handling this delicate transformation, and do you believe it was the best solution to salvage the dented image of the police?

David M. Kigo, Nairobi

The Kenya Police Service and the Administration Police Service remain as outlined under Article 243(1) of the Constitution.

Their functions are as defined by the National Police Service Act, 2011, Part III (for Kenya Police) and Part IV for the Administration Police Service, and Part V (for the Directorate of Criminal Investigations).

All I did was to discharge my functions as provided for under Section 10(1) (b) of the National Police Service Act to “organise this service into various formations, units and components”.

Kenya Police now focuses on public safety and security. Administration Police role is protective as well as border security while the role of the DCI is criminal investigations. I have no doubt that it will work, with the support of all Kenyans.

2. As your term comes to an end, even your harshest critics will agree that you did your best to tame terrorist attacks. However, you leave at a time when conflicts in the North Rift seem to be escalating. Is it that you never gave this region priority?

Komen Moris, Eldoret

Not at all. On the contrary, I spent lots of my time in efforts to deal with cattle rustling in the North Rift and, while we may not have succeeded to stop the scourge, the results of our efforts are clear.

We not only used tough law enforcement methods, but we also promoted alternatives like traditional conflict resolution methods that have brought relative peace to the border of Turkana and West Pokot counties. We had three ceremonies to celebrate the peace in December 2016, 2017 and 2018.

We have unfortunately witnessed a flare-up of rustling incidents in the past few weeks, but we are working hard to restore normalcy.

The way forward, in my view, will be to promote modern animal husbandry as well as encouraging alternative forms of livelihood.

I am aware a strategy is being developed by the relevant government departments to address that matter.

3. Why was the government in such a hurry to change one of the best police uniforms in the region?

Andrew Maranga Ratemo, Malindi

We were not in a hurry to change the uniforms for the sake of it, but it was a culmination of a well-thought out process.

The new blue uniforms are for all officers on general duty who are from both Kenya Police and the Administration Police.

Those in formed police units such as GSU and Border Police Unit remain with their current uniforms.

4. In light of Baby Pendo’s inquest findings and the general perception of police culpability in the killing and maiming of demonstrators in 2017, what do you have to say about police conduct at the time? What justified the killing of innocent people?

Bernice Awuor Otieno, Migori

We employed lawful methods of crowd control to restore order in instances where public safety and security was at risk.

In every instance where any police officer was suspected of using excessive force, redress was sought in accordance with the law.

5. Security experts have pointed out that the reason Al-Shabaab remains a nightmare to Kenya is the porous Kenya-Somalia border. Besides, corruption and political instability provide a recipe for thriving terrorism. What is your take on these claims?

Bonny Mutai, Londiani

Yes, it is true that the Kenya-Somalia border is porous and sparsely populated and could allow criminals to sneak into the country.

We have however employed multi-agency strategies and engaged with local communities that have helped us eliminate many terror plots and attempts to infiltrate our country. We must all work together to protect and defend our country.

6. Kindly elaborate on the new reforms that will see some AP camps abolished as officers stay in rented houses. Is Difathas AP camp in Mwea East Sub-County affected by these changes?

Mathani Kaboi, Mwea East

The ongoing reforms are aimed at making the National Police Service more effective, efficient and responsive.

The reforms are also aimed at making more rational use of available resources with one police commander in the regions, counties, sub-counties and wards.

We plan to set up a police station in each ward that will cover posts and patrol bases in each location and sub-location.

The criteria remain; they are established in government-owned land. There will, therefore, be a police post in Difathas as well as all other locations countrywide.

7. With the recent overhaul in the organisational structure of the police service, how do you intend to improve communication with wananchi?

Githuku Mungai, Nairobi

I agree the relationship between the police and the public has been, as you described, adversarial. This is attributed to a number of factors that are mainly historical.

We have acknowledged that we need to do more to improve the relationship by impressing upon our officers that the NPS is people-centric.

We have done this by improving our training docket, building partnerships between the police and all segments of our society aimed at building trust in the police.

8. I feel bad every time I see the feeble-looking Yamaha 200 motorbikes purchased for the police sometime back. The motorbikes lack the speed and power required for police work, and furthermore their outlook diminishes the authority of our officers. Don’t you think their purchase was a waste of taxpayers’ money? Why didn’t you tender for more appropriate motorcycles?

Dr Kimani Wanjeri, taxpayer

Those motorcycles were brought a while ago and we have stopped procuring them. All the motorcycles we have procured since 2016 are up to the appropriate calibre, and I am sure you have seen some of them on our roads.

9. Some of your officers took loans to go back to school yet this has not translated into a review of their terms of work, like they had hoped for. How do you expect them to perform efficiently?

Bob Odhiambo, Kileleshwa

The matter of police constables who obtained degrees after being enlisted into the National Police Service is in court, and hence it would be sub-judice to discuss the same.

10. As you prepare to leave, what will the junior officers and the country at large remember as your milestone achievement?

Morris Kubai

There are many achievements I have made that include the new curriculum for recruitment of constables, revised promotional courses for all ranks as well as the introduction of direct entry courses for chief inspectors and assistant superintendent of police.

There is also the publication of many policy documents such as the Service Standing Orders and the commencement of the process to digitise all police records, systems and procedures which will simplify and ease provision of policing services.

11. Recently, officers were instructed to vacate police houses and rent private premises after they were given some house allowances. Unfortunately, the allowances provided are not enough to enable them rent decent houses in big towns like Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, Nakuru and the like. How will they be able to respond to emergencies if they are scattered all over town?

Edward B. Wekesa, Kisumu

We made proposals to the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) and we held many engagements on our position.

What we finally provided was what the National Treasury could approve for a start. We shall continue engaging the SRC together with the National Police Commission on the matter.

12. Suicide and homicide among officers of the National Police Service still remain a matter of concern as the number of incidents rise. How is this being handled?

Francis Awiti, Kakamega County

Suicides and homicides among officers are indeed a matter of concern, and we have taken a number of steps to mitigate.

I created Counselling and Chaplaincy Directorate within NPS headquarters and also got an experienced doctor as a medical adviser to help in preventive and outreach programmes for officers’ wellness and health.

We are also working towards establishing our own National Police Service Hospital to take care of the special needs of officers.

13. On the decision to merge the APs with their Kenya Police counterparts, don’t you feel it has caused much disgruntlement?

Andrew Maranga Ratemo, Malindi

There is no merger or any disagreements whatsoever that I know of.

I am only aware of a few officers who preferred the old system that promoted unnecessary competition as well as turf wars. The vast majority of officers are quite happy with the changes.

Additionally, just like any change process elsewhere, whether in the public or private sector, the process could be disruptive to some, but it is in the best interest of all Kenyans.

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