The ongoing reorganisation of the National Police is causing anxiety within the Administration Police Wing, the Kenya Police and DCI.
The government embarked on implementing radical changes in the NPS mainly to increase NPS’s effectiveness and efficiency in delivering services by closing the gap between the twin services of APS and the KPS, and to demystify perceptions of brutality and abuse of human rights.
President Uhuru Kenyatta while unveiling the reforms said Kenyans want to be policed by men and women who are fair and ready to help and make a stand against corruption and abuse of office rather than hinder economic and business activity.
“The changes will clarify and simplify command and control to increase accountability and performance,” he said.
The comprehensive changes are meant to deepen the transformation of the police and overall national security but they have rattled many officers and there already casualties occasioned by the restructuring of the command structure.
The reforms have seen the abolition of the APS Regional Commander, KPS Regional Commander, DCI Regional Commander, County Coordinating Commander, KPS County Commander, APS County Commander and DCI County Commander.
Some senior officers have lost lucrative duties and others, prestigious offices and powers.
There has been a parallel command in APS and KPS as well as DCI. But the changes are setting one command which eliminates the two lines in command of APS and KPS, and officers in both services are placed under one command in each jurisdiction.
This means that some officers have to lose their positions.
More than 24, 572 APS officers will join the KPS’s 39, 680 in the general duties that were previously a reserve of the KPS only, to raise the number of cops in GD to 64, 252. And as a result, the officers in GD will focus on public safety and security.
The APS will be left with slightly over 7,000 officers who will be tasked with border control and security, as well as combating cattle rustling and banditry.
The reduction of the APS numbers means that the deputy IG in charge of the service will be in command of a lesser number of officers and hence considered less powerful as compared to their KPS counterpart and this has not gone well with APS seniors.
The Current DIG in charge of APS Noor Gabow will be left in charge of the formed up units of the APS comprising the 7,000 officers mainly drawn from the elite Border Patrol, the Security of Government, Rapid Deployment Units, and the Quick Response Team.
The NPS is in the process of setting up a police special unit for protection of national infrastructure and critical installations with about 8,000 officers and the Anti Stock Theft Unit will be retained.
But it is not clear who will be in charge of the two although being formed up units, it is presumed they will be placed under APS.
The true picture
However, there lies a sense of superiority, betrayal, disloyalty and infighting within the service.
Tension has been brewing within the entire police service after the President made the announcement.
The hardest part of the reforms is to instil a common understanding of police-station work and to build a feeling of pride and mutual loyalty that will be symbolized by a joint pass-out parade.
For instance, IG Joseph Boinnet and DCI chief George Kinoti are still battling over the reforms going to strip detectives of their rank and require them to report to uniformed officers.
The most contested is the plan for DCI chiefs of all ranks to report to new commanders, the uniformed police, whom many consider inferior.
Kinoti is pushing for a review of the ranking system to enable DCI chiefs, especially at top levels, to maintain the ranks of AIG.
In the proposed changes, the regional police commander would be elevated to AIG.
The DCI commander operating under the regional police commander would hold a lower rank, possibly commissioner of police.
This means, for instance, that a regional police commander in Nairobi will hold the rank of AIG, while the DCI chief in the same area will be a mere commissioner of police.
A senior officer at the Embakasi Training College said it is going to be difficult for senior officers under the APS to accept to serve under KPS command where they are deemed juniors in command structure.
“Sisi hatukatai reforms lakini shida yetu ni kwamba tunaona kama IG anapendelea wale wa upande mwingine kuliko sisi. Hii ni kitu iko wazi hata ukiangalia hii uniform mpya hakuna mtu wa AP alihusishwa sisi tuliambiwa tu kuna uniform inakuja kidogokidogo tukaona IG ameivaa,” the officer said.
This is loosely translated to “….we are not against reforms but our problem is that the IG seems to be favouring one side. This is very obvious because if you look at the new uniforms for example, none of us in the AP was consulted, we were just informed of the new uniform then suddenly we show the IG already in one.”
This he said has not gone down well with the officers within the AP command because they think the IG, who is supposed to act as a unifying factor, is sacrificing them at the expense of KPS.
“It is common knowledge that Kenya Police is more vulnerable and corrupt but because most Kenyans do not understand the difference between Kenya Police and AP, they just generalise that all police are corrupt. This is why we feel that the IG is seeking to soil the good reputation of AP with this merger,” he added.
This is so evident in that in mid-January, while meeting security chiefs at the Coast, Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i urged the new commanders to work hard to address the discord that has existed within the service for decades.
“We have no option but to work together. Let us stop this silo mentality and collectively address the discord to intensify the mode of service delivery,” he said.
Matiang’i said that is the only way to put an end to blame games that have manifested in the past.
A junior officer at a chief’s camp in Nairobi said AP officers are the most disciplined within the police service and despite that they have given their lives for the sake of the country compared to their Kenya Police counterparts.
Kenyan policemen are poorly paid and have to make use with archaic housing that has not been expanded or renovated since the 1970s.
This has made them very susceptible to corruption and crime.
Extortion and bribery are not unknown practices and the Kenyan people rank the police among the most corrupt bodies in the country.
In July 2010 the late Prof. George Saitoti, then Interior CS announced a 28% pay increase for junior officers and a 25% pay increase for senior officers.
This meant that a junior officer, a Police Constable, could receive Sh21, 000 month including allowances.
But currently, new recruits are said to earn Sh19, 120 with an annual increment of Sh500.
A constable in Mandera said new recruits earn Sh19,120 with an annual increment of Sh500.
He said married officers manning the border get a hardship allowance of Sh2,300 a month which translates to about Sh76 in a day compared to those not married who earn Sh1,800 which is an equivalent of Sh60 in a day.
“We have been getting a gross salary of about Sh35,000 plus the new house allowance of Sh5,500 makes it Sh40,500. After some deductions you find that we have gone back to where we were,” the officer said.
The officers had initially been promised house allowances of Sh8,500 with a commuter allowance of Sh3,000 making it Sh11,500 but they have only been receiving a house allowance of Sh5,500 and commuter allowance of Sh3,000 making it Sh8,500.
“In short what we are likely going to experience is a worse situation than we have been in. They add small allowances but large deductions subjecting us to the same conditions,” he noted.
The national Police Service Commission will however have to be involved in terms of revising the salary for the officers.
Head of corporate affairs Patrick Odongo said some areas will have to be put on hold until another commission is constituted.
“We know we cannot be talking of reforms without serious consideration of welfare. If we can put the officers under good house allowance, commuter allowance, give them a good health cover and insure them then we shall be moving on the right track on the reforms,” he said.
Director of reforms Jasper Ombati told the Star that there should be no cause for alarm over the process.
He said the reforms are being strategically implemented to ensure a smooth integration of the two services.
“People will always express different perceptions when there is change. But all we are looking at is adaptation of new and modern technology to enhance our service delivery,” Ombati said.
“We know the welfare of the officers is critical and salary is the key motivator. We know we are not paying enough but that is not the key issue for now. We are looking at other aspects to be taken to account in the reforms,” he added.
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